I had a difficult time deciding what to write about current events today. I have no desire to write about politics, particularly the GOP debate, because I am so tired of politicians and the fact that we usually cannot tell if they are telling the truth or not –probably not – until much later. I am also tired of all the gloom and doom in the news. Why can’t we learn to live together simply as Americans?
Then I read a letter from Jim DeMint, the president of The Heritage Foundation. The letter encouraged its readers to reflect upon what Independence Day means to us individually. Even though American colonists declared independence on July 4, 1776, they continued to fight a long bloody war for five more years. Those brave men and the women who supported them won our independence in that war. The freedom that came with independence has been safeguarded and defended by brave men and women since that time.
Mr. DeMint encouraged his readers “not only to give thanks for the countless Americans who have fought to keep us free, but also to resolve that we will never, ever relinquish that fight.” He included an “open letter to all soldiers” written by Joni Bour on July 4, 2003, and I would like to share a few paragraphs from that letter with you.
“It is because of you and the men and women you served with that my children are safe. It is because of men and women like you that I have the freedom to wave a sparkler around and have reason to be thankful for the independence that no others in the world share. In America I am asked to vote my opinion on matters that are significant. Only in a country like this would I be given the opportunity to prove I can do something others might not have even thought possible. In America I am innocent until proven guilty, not guilty merely because I may be accused of something.
“Where else but America would someone likely stand up for someone else who needs a little help? Someone stood up for me once, and I repay the favor every chance I am given. It is because of men and women like you that the rockets my children want me to light make a few sparks and a loud noise and everyone giggles, a way to celebrate the freedom in our lives. They are not rockets that maim and destroy, taking the very life from the children who touch them. How many places in the world have you, our soldiers, been where the children have no dreams or hopes, except to find food and shelter and to live another day?
“I wonder to myself, How did I ever earn such fortune? The answer, of course, is that I didn’t earn any of it. People like you and my grandfathers during World War II, and all veterans of the Vietnam War … earned this right for me. How can I ever repay you? I am not sure I can. What have I done to show myself worthy of gifts you have given me? I just don’t know. I mean to live a good life and to never forget that I was given an opportunity that so many others have not. I will probably never be a soldier, never sleep in a trench, neve be truly afraid or truly alone – all things you have endured for me. But I will remember that you did those things for me.
“… I will always stand up for what I think is right and for those who cannot protect themselves. I will not be silent when there is something to say, because surely the cost to me is not as great as what I would pay by being silent or turning the other cheek. Your sacrifices will never be for nothing. I will always remember you. I will always respect you and always, to my last day on the soil you fought for, be grateful for my Independence Day. Thank you. [Signed] Joni Bour”
This letter gave me reason to write tonight. I too remember that freedom is not free because I know it is paid for by the efforts, blood and lives of those men and women willing to stand between our nation and the enemy. I too am grateful for those people who have willingly made this stand that I may live free. Thank you to all who have fought for the liberty and freedom of all Americans! I will remember the reason we celebrate Independence Day!