It is the Fourth of July week as I write this column. Soon our beloved country will be in full celebration mode of Independence Day.
Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, a brave group of our Founding Fathers signed their names to a document, called The Declaration of Independence, that would change the course of human history.
This document was the precursor to a new country – The United States of America. The Declaration sets the bar high, raises a lofty ideal, if you will, as to what freedom would look like and cost. The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew the price of this freedom would be great.
In fact, they knew the price could even mean their deaths. Therefore, they inserted the last line into the Declaration that reads, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” The price of freedom was a price they deemed an honor for their generation to pay.
The price of freedom in America is a debt that is never really paid in full. It is not a once and done deal. It has installments that each succeeding generation must decide whether or not to pay.
And when one generation decides the price of freedom is too great and decides not to pay, then freedom is lost, not only for that generation, but for the succeeding generations. Freedom surrendered is freedom lost and freedom lost is seldom regained.
In the generations that have touched my life, I have both witnessed and learned of many acts of heroism, by many wonderful people, who have paid the installments for the price of freedom.
As I attended the Celebrate America Rally last week at Franklin Road Baptist Church I listened as person after person stepped to the microphone and spoke the name of hero after hero who had paid the price for our freedom – some even paid with their lives.
My wife spoke of her father who drove an artillery wagon in WWI. I spoke of my father who spent four years island hopping in the Pacific Theatre of WWII. Others spoke of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Heroes all.
But as I was writing this column the Lord nudged me and made me realize that brave soldiers don’t always pay the installments for the price of freedom on foreign battlefields. Sometimes brave soldiers on the home front pay the price. I thought of those in my lifetime who paid the ultimate price for freedom.
I remembered President John F. Kennedy, his brother Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. Heroes all. But then, I began to remember people who weren’t national heroes. I began to realize that the ordinary people who fill our lives often pay the installments for the price of freedom. I thought of the pastors, Sunday School teachers, and deacons that God brought into my life who uncompromisingly stood “for” what was right and “against” what was wrong.
I thought of the schoolteachers who started their class each day with Bible reading, prayer, and the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. Teachers who taught reading, writing, and arithmetic – all to the tune of a hickory stick! Heroes all. I thought of my grandparents who survived the Great Depression and had a work ethic and frugality about them that I couldn’t begin to understand. Then I thought of my parents. Strange thing about my parents – they were there in the home – both of them! They loved each other.
They loved their children and we were their responsibility. They didn’t pawn us off on somebody else. They made sure we were in church with them and had moral values. And while I take nothing from the soldier or the national hero, I slowly began to realize that the home is where the real installments for the price of freedom in America are paid.
Remember, “The price of freedom in America is a debt that is never really paid in full. It is not a once and done deal. It has installments that each succeeding generation must decide whether or not to pay.” Sadly, many in my generation have deemed the price too high and have surrendered many freedoms that we may never reclaim. (To be continued)