Two-hundred and forty-six years ago, the United States of America was born. Every Independence Day we celebrate because, being Americans, we have something worth celebrating. As we gather with friends and family to cheer fireworks, many of us will say a special prayer thanking God for our country’s freedom.
Freedom. Search the word online and you will find this definition: The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Still, it seems that a lot has been left out. Freedom means a lot more than that. It is not just a word with a definition: it is a very real and very precious thing.
Freedom, perhaps, has been attacked more than anything else. Wars have been fought to destroy it; wars have been fought to preserve it. We see this thing called freedom in action every day. This article demonstrates freedom of speech. When you read the news, you see the freedom of the press. Whether or not you attended church yesterday, you exercised your freedom of religion. If you write an e-mail your Congressman, you demonstrate the right to petition the government. These and our other freedoms make America unique.
The following excerpt from Ronald Reagan’s Farewell Address further shows us what American freedom stands for:
“I’ve been reflecting on what the past eight years have meant and mean. And the image that comes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one—a small story about a big ship, and a refugee, and a sailor. . . [T]he sailor was hard at work on the carrier Midway, which was patrolling the South China Sea. The sailor, like most American servicemen, was young, smart, and fiercely observant. The crew spied on the horizon a leaky little boat, and crammed inside were refugees from Indochina hoping to get to America. The Midway sent a small launch to bring them to the ship and safety. As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas, one spied the sailor on deck, and stood up, and called out to him. He yelled, “Hello, American sailor—Hello, freedom man.” A small moment with a big meaning. . . . Because that’s what it [is] to be an American. . . . We [stand]. . . for freedom.”
This definition of freedom will never be found in a dictionary, but freedom cannot be defined except by things such as these.
Reagan, Ronald. The Greatest Speeches of Ronald Reagan. Newsmax, 2001.