“Freedom is Not Free” reads the main impact sign of the Korean Memorial at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., alongside other remembrances such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial.
Most Americans know freedom comes at a cost. We fight our own wars at home for women’s equality, equal access to education, loan forgiveness, and so much more. We’ve fought overseas and on our own land to secure our freedom, our voices, our choices, our standard of living to provide health, education and liberty for all. Fighting for freedom is a familiar ritual of sacrifice, but our freedom can also be used to meet our full potential as individuals. Some people this week are preserving our individual liberty through fighting fires, accepting losses of homes, rebuilding after other formidable natural disasters, and still others are learning to forgive after being wronged through one or more hurtful actions from others.
Our window into other people’s lives is more global than ever before. We can sit at the computer, open a newspaper, or turn on the TV and learn about fellow Americans or those across the world. We have a front row seat to carnage, injustice, poverty, inequality, and human brutality every minute of every day. We also have the ability to give money, our time, our ideas, our support through the click of a button, a phone call, or a plane ride which gives access to face-to-face interaction.
Today’s call-to-action is to be bigger than our own perspective or set of experiences. May we each open our eyes to the power of freedom and let our new outlook help make a difference on the largest scale that we can imagine. Let us know the difference between patriotism and ethnocentrism, holding other cultures with respect, dignity, and honor no matter how different they may be from our thinking and set of experiences.
The fight for freedom doesn’t have an end, but neither should the fight to give freedom meaning. On this 4th of July, we remember our independence, the men and women who have fought for our freedom, and our will to keep fighting for our own freedom and the freedom of others. We ask you to look within yourself today, to have a vision on the scale of Martin Luther King, to have the resolve of our Founding Fathers, to have the wherewithal of our armed servants, to have the courage of Abe Lincoln, the perseverance of Jane Addams, and the faith of Nelson Mandela. With gratitude for those who inspire us and for the potential which lies within each of us, we wish you a blessed and meaningful July 4th.