Independence Day is one of the best American holidays, both for what we celebrate and how we celebrate it.
It’s easy, however, to take liberty for granted, and to misconstrue just how difficult it was to gain our freedoms 239 years ago. The Revolutionary War was long and costly–arguably the second-longest conflict in American history. While the 50,000 or so casualties on the American side are roughly equal in number to the total dead and wounded in Afghanistan, this was at a time when there were fewer than three million people were living in the former British colonies.
So by all means, march in a parade, host a barbecue, have a few beers, head to the beach, light off some fireworks. My family and I will be right there with you.
Take a minute here, though, to reflect on why we celebrate as well. Here are some fine things ever said about freedom to get you thinking.
“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.” -Mark Twain
“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” -Nelson Mandela
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men [sic] are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“[W]e look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants–everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.” -Franklin Roosevelt
“Freedom lies in being bold.” -Robert Frost
“Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.” -Napoleon Bonaparte
“I’d like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free and wanted other people to be also free.”
We in this country are indeed fortunate to be able to choose the best for ourselves — the best food, the best company, the best lifestyle. I wish you all the happiest and healthiest and freest of celebrations!