Freedom is never free. Someone always pays the bill. It was brave men and women – brave in ways I find almost unimaginable – who paved the way for us to be free to date and marry who we want when we want. They made it possible for us to choose where and how we want to live. It is because of them that I was free to make so many relationship mistakes. Freedom is so ingrained in our American culture that most of us have no idea how valuable it truly is – to the point that many are willing to trade it for comfort.
I have quoted him before, but I cannot help repeating this word from John Adams, our second President:
“Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it” (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 26-Apr-1777).
Our forefathers sacrificed because they had a dream of freedom. They wanted their children and their children’s children to enjoy a land where they could be free to study and be anything they wanted to be!
“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain” (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 12-May-1780).
Those who poured out their strategy, sweat, blood, and tears for freedom did so with the future in mind; and, not a future that benefitted them directly, but a future that benefitted those who would carry on beyond them. How many of us would be willing to spend the better part of our adulthoods building a free country – one we would be too old and tired to enjoy? Would we do so if we believed our sacrifice would provide future generations with the priceless gift of freedom? (I think our current American mindset would not….) However, we are the recipients of such sacrifice – a sacrifice that continues to provide blessings to us today.
To those remaining national heroes who serve in our military, here is what I want to say to you on the eve of our nation’s 239th birthday:
- You Are My Hero! To those who just graduated high school and are heading off to boot camp. To those who have devoted your life to the military and spent months or years overseas. To those who fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. To all men and women in uniform, from the oldest to the youngest – you are my hero! I admire the bravery and honor you demonstrate and the sacrifice you made, and continue to make, for all of us. Regardless of the reason you chose to serve our country, I thank you and consider your service a personal gift.
- You Are the Kind of Person I Want to Be. I have spent much of my life hiding from “scary” unknowns. To me, it takes bravery to speak in front of a group, to stand up for Christ, and to leave the comfort of a well-oiled life for a chance at something greater. What you consider terrifying is probably different now than it was before you joined the military. You have seen and experienced what many of us will never see and could not even fathom. I hope if the day comes that I am faced with something truly terrifying, I will exhibit the same bravery you do.
- You and Your Family Deserve More Respect Than You Receive. Though you collect some perks civilians do not, those perks do not come close to adequately compensating you for what you give. You deserve so much more; and, only those who have walked in your shoes understand just how much more you deserve. More than anything, you should be given more respect and gratitude.
- You Inspire Me to Appreciate This Amazing Land. It has been a few hundred years since our founding fathers walked this great land. Those of us who were born and raised here often take the freedoms we enjoy for granted. And, some go as far as to speak out against the very actions which brought us to where we are today. When I forget how much good I have inherited from past generations, all I have to do is watch a soldier board an airplane, see a video of soldiers coming home, or hear a song about a fallen soldier to remember that the mortgage on my homeland is still being paid – and I am so grateful.
- You Have Much to Teach Us. From the proper way to make a bed to the bravery it takes to lay one’s life on the line, we have so much to learn from you. As someone who struggles with diligence and procrastination, I often wish I had the discipline that has been ingrained in you. I find your dedication inspirational and I deeply respect what you do and how efficiently and perfectly you do it.
There is so much more I could say. To those who have gone before us and paved the way for the American dream, thank you. For those who fought along the way so that we could keep this dream alive, thank you. For those who continue to fight and sacrifice so that we do not lose what it took centuries to build, thank you.
Thank you and may God richly bless you and your family.
Is there a soldier you and your sweetie can thank this Fourth of July?