Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Give Me Liberty: The Home of the Brave

This column was published on June 25.

With Flag Day still in our rear view mirror, and Independence Day just around the bend, today is the perfect time to contemplate our wonderful nation.
Let’s start by considering the last line of the Star Spangled Banner; “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
I love that line. Pride swells as our voices soar on the final triumphant note. It’s so gallant – so inspiring. What a privilege to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave!
But have you ever paused to really think about that line? It seems pretty straight forward. But what if “land” and “home” mean two different things? What if the “Free” and the “Brave” are two different kinds of people?
The Brave are the people who have fought for America. They have made sacrifices. They have defended freedom regardless of the cost.
Thanks to the Brave, the rest of us are Free! We enjoy freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, and more. We are free to invent, to grow, and to learn. Thanks to the Brave, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
But sadly, we often forget the high price of freedom, and we end up taking ours for granted. How many times do we, the Free, actually stop to think about the Brave souls who have defended our way of life?
By the Brave, I do not mean only the men and women in uniform, who risk life and limb on foreign soil in America’s defense. Most assuredly, they are brave. But the Brave also include many others, like the pioneers who cut paths through uncharted wilderness, and by the sweat of their brow, began to build a nation. The Brave are the mothers who did not give up hope during times of hardship. The Brave are the children who missed their fathers when they were called to serve.
Yes, the Brave are people like my maternal great grandfather, Philip Hale, who flew secret missions during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. But the Brave are also people like my paternal great grandfather, Ernest Martin, who worked multiple jobs to sustain a wife and eleven children during the Great Depression.
What about the difference between “land” and “home?” Well, anyone can live in a land, but unless your heart resides there as well, it’s just another place. However, a home is something much more. Where you were raised is just part of it. It’s how you were raised – what you believe. That’s where you heart is. That’s your home. Doesn’t it make sense that for America to continue to be the land of the Free, it must continue to be the home of the Brave?
When we sing the National Anthem, those final lyrics should mean something more than just a gallant sentiment. Even though the Brave of the past were heroes, they were no different than us. They had their share of fear, but they didn’t let it overcome their beliefs.
Someday, it will be our turn to be Brave. We may not be called to go to war or face untamed lands, but eventually, each one of us is called to stand up for what we believe in.
I pray that we continue the tradition of strong conviction and bravery in America. We have come too far as a nation to lose our freedom now. Remember, as soon as America ceases to be the home of the Brave, it will cease to be the land of the Free.


Hudson said...

What kind of missions did your grandfather fly?

Anonymous said...

Freedom for who? Who makes the sacrifices? Those are the questions you must ask. Freedom means freedom for capital. For business. For corporations. Thats why wars are fought. In their interests to get a bigger share of the world market and more profit. Do the rich and their children make the sacrifices? No. They get us working people to fight and die and defend their interests for them in their wars. Workers are the only ones who make sacrifices. See through the propaganda and the patriotic nationalist rhetoric. They tell us all this grand stuff to get us to believe so that we won't question. So that we will obey at the drop of a hat. Freedom is a grand word but under the banner of freedom for industry, the most predatory wars have been
waged. Freedom of speech and freedom of press? How do those freedoms means anything if 5 corporations own all the major networks? How do those freedoms mean anything if you aren't rich enough to pay millions of dollars for air time?

The pioneers who began to build a nation? There were already many nations of Native Americans already here when European settlers arrived. Then they were wiped out in a campaign of genocide over the next few hundred years. Native Americans who still face hardship and who have lost hope. Living in poverty on reservations with the highest rates of unemployment and alcoholism.

The Great Depression. A crisis caused by capitalism and the rich who drove the economy off the cliff. And made the working class pay for it. Just like during this financial crisis. Bankers and the rich getting bailed out with trillions of working class taxpayer dollars meanwhile the workers themselves get no relief and can't even find one job.

I hope bravery will be shown by people who finally get tired of being lied to and abused. Who finally stop believing the lies and fearmongering that the ruling class feeds to them on a daily basis. Trying to divide them so they'll be weak and unable to fight back. That they will band together and tear this tyrannical system down. They tell us we have freedom. When we really are in chains. Those who don't move never notice their chains. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Liberty said...

Hudson, I am not sure specifically what kind of missions he flew, but I know he flew B-24 "Liberators" on bombing missions.

Anonymous, I will never agree with you. But the very fact that you can speak your opinion as it is, without anyone punishing you, proves that you have more freedom than most people around the world. No, our country isn't perfect. But we should be thankful for the freedoms we have, and use them so they are not taken away.
America is a nation where anyone can speak up and make a difference if they try hard enough. If you think so much needs to be changed, you can start taking action to change it. You have the freedom to do that.

Anonymous said...

You don't think that the FBI and the rest of the government's vast police apparatus has a file on me or people like me who publicly state their views if the government views them as dangerous? The government does punish people for their views. They are maced, beaten, arrested and detained all the time. Is America really the only nation where its possible to make a difference? If people band together and organize anywhere they can make a difference. If they don't give up. Organizing, taking action, taking to the streets, is the ONLY way to change things. The only way social change happens.

Why do you believe as you do? Why do you take as gospel what you read in the history books and what the government says about history, about how society is? Have you ever had doubts that what you've been told is untrue?