I feel like I am in an excellent position to talk about freedom. I fought, bled, and was willing to give my life for it. Twenty-one years is what I gave in the name of freedom. I have witnessed the very best and the very worst of what a country implies when it states that its citizens are ‘free’ and lived to tell the tale.
It is such a simple word- Freedom. The word itself means
The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.Oxford Dictionary
Three pillars of the word are the basis for humanity-
- Freedom from… the ability to live in a world where you are not oppressed based on color, religion, sex, or location to a larger country.
- Freedom to… the ability to do what you want, when you want, and how you want. Now, it would be remiss of me not to mention that these actions have consequences, so be prepared.
- Free to be… the ability to be who you want to be. President? Sure! The next Bill Gates? Why not! A stay-at-home parent? I see no problem with that? The sky is your limit on how far you can achieve your personal goals.
And yet freedom does come at a very high cost. A cost that many Americans have not ever had to pay because someone else has paid the price- either in history or currently.
So I question, what is Americans’ current concept of freedom? Is it just freedom to read what you want? Freedom to post on social media whatever angry or helpful words you have? Freedom to join a girl’s sport as a boy or a boy’s as a girl? Freedom to wear a mask or not?
Or is it more?
Is it the freedom to break the chains of an abusive past? Freedom to become more than your parents? Freedom to achieve the impossible dream that so many denied you?
Freedom, to me, is all of that. It is the complete and utter lack of restraint to become something more, but not at the expense of another. All of us in this country have a voice and the ability to go further than we ever dreamed. That is not to say that it will not be hard, that there won’t be roadblocks and nay-sayers in the way. It is not to say that it will happen without a personal sacrifice of time, money, or relationships. However, it can happen.
I have watched the brave men and women of Ukraine fight for what they believe to be their collective freedom. Their choice in how they want to be governed and by who. It has been awe-inspiring. It has reminded me of the few weeks after 9-11 when Americans bounded together in a shared moment, and for a split second, we were the UNITED States of America.
Those few weeks of community and country togetherness got me through the first couple of deployments to the Middle East. Back then, when things were tough, the days long, the heat unbearable, the water undrinkable- I remember that I had a whole country behind me and my battle buddies cheering for us. And we would live to fight another day.
I pray for those living in Ukraine and the countries surrounding them that have done their part to be kind and decent neighbors. I watch daily, not to be reminded of a great evil currently being done, but to remember and see those citizens and hear their stories and needs.
Ukraine’s fight has reminded the world that freedom is worth fighting for regardless of the imposing threat standing in front of you. It has shown that common decency and a willing heart mean more than all the money and power in the world.
So, I ask that as we watch the battles unfold- you ask yourself:
What freedom are you fighting for, and what does it mean to you?