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The Tentacle


July 5, 2002

What Does Independence Day Mean To You?

Bob Miller

What does Independence Day mean to you? Websters dictionary states "Independence day, the fourth of July, the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Independence: Freedom from the control of another. That's a powerful statement. One we might take for granted. So let's break it down a little.

Let's take the word freedom and resort back to the Websters dictionary for a definitive meaning: Freedom: The state or quality of being free. 2: exemption or liberation from the control of some other person or some arbitrary power, or being able to act, move without hindrance.

So, now we have Webster's definition, but what does freedom mean to you?

Well, let us try to list some if we can. Does it mean being able to go to your local 7-11 at one in the morning to buy a chili dog and a pack of smokes and a pint of Ben & Jerry's chocolate chip ice cream , take it home and watch Happy Days reruns all night long in you air conditioned house?

Or, if were lucky, a four day weekend like this weekend for many of us. Does it mean backyard barbeques with friends? Does it mean going to Baker Park to watch Mark McQuinn and the Grassroots?

Well, because we live in America, it means this and so much more.

It means that, for the most part, you have the opportunity to travel thousands of miles without anyone caring who you are.

It means, finally, that a race of people who were enslaved for years can have a representative become a justice of The Supreme Court.

It means that women have equal rights.

In the past couple of years, I think that we have taken our freedom for granted. That, of course, all changed on September 11th, 2001.

I think that we took our freedom for granted, and we express our freedom in ways that hardly dignify the word freedom.

Yet, because we are free, we are allowed to desecrate the American Flag. We allow people to march and complain about everything and anything. We allow hate groups to assemble and recruit.

Because we are free, we have people trying to save trees and baby seals but don't have a problem killing babies.

Because we are free, we are allowed to gripe about our government. Yet we don't go out and vote. In other countries people walk for miles to get a chance to cast their ballots, and, in some cases, they fear for their lives. Yet we take voting for granted.

America, home of the Brave, land of the Free. My friends, if you hear someone complaining about how bad our country is, then in your loudest voice tell them to GET OUT! When you leave, there are at least 10,000 more who want to get in.

If this is such a rotten country, then why in God's name are so people doing everything in their power to come to America? I'll tell you why! Because this is the land of opportunity.

PJ O'Rourke said it best: "America was founded so we could all be anything we damn well pleased. But there is a price to pay for freedom, and those who expect to reap the blessing of freedom must, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."

We must be willing to put aside our differences and realize that we are the melting pot of the world, and people have different philosophies, religious beliefs, and different languages. But we have one thing in common. We are Americans.

The founders of this country knew the greatness that was ahead for this great land, so let's not lose sight of their vision.

I want you, at some point in the next few weeks, visit the grave of the man who wrote the National Anthem. He's buried right here in Frederick. Maybe a trip to Gettysburg, or a trip to Washington to read the Declaration of Independence. It's very powerful.

We are surrounded by the history that forged this country. Go to Arlington National Cemetery and look at all the men and women who died for freedom. Go to the Wall and look at the men and women who fought for freedom for other countries, freedom that we hold so dear we are willing to die for other people to experience the same type of freedom.

If you want to know my definition of freedom? Well, you won't find it in Websters. Freedom is getting up happy and looking forward to the day that lies ahead. Freedom is knowing that you can cope with - and enjoy - this day and very likely tomorrow and the next and the next.

One caveat about freedom. If we don't guard our freedom, there are many people who want to take it away. So be vigilant when it comes to guarding your freedom, or one day it may be gone.



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