The Price of Freedom (A Poem)

The trumpet sounds

The flags are waving

The bands are playing

The children are laughing

The fireworks are bursting across the night sky

The chorus of jubilant masses sing, “My Country ‘tis of Thee”

A celebration of freedom breaks out on this, the 4th day of July

But why can we celebrate freedom?

The trumpets

The flags

The bands

The laughing children

The fireworks

It all comes at a price

It is not a monetary price of which I speak

But a currency of sacrifice

Paid by those brave souls who have gone before us

This blessed freedom has been bought by those who have fought and died on the battle lines

It began with a revolution

Of countless men fighting the oppressive rule of a king miles and miles away

Farmers, bankers, merchants, lawyers, and preachers striving for independence

Among them were the many slaves and free black men serving with their brothers in Washington’s army

This freedom was threatened by the divisions which sought to tear apart the fabric of America

Until stitched together again by a man whose Emancipation Proclamation sought to declare that “All men are created equal”

The purchase of freedom continued with the courageous fighters in two world wars

The second of which defeated fascism while freeing the countless Jews and others persecuted by a madman hell-bent on xenophobia and anti-Semitism

This purchase extended with brave men and women serving in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere

Men

Women

European-Americans

African-Americans

Hispanic-Americans

Asian-Americans

Native-Americans

Protestants

Catholics

Mormons

Jews

Muslims

Sikhs

Hindus

Buddhists

Atheists

Agnostics

Native-born

And Immigrants

All wearing the uniform with honor and devotion

As their heroic families carry on with their loved ones away from home

They all made this freedom possible

And without them, freedom becomes far too difficult to achieve

And while we honor the brave men and women who have served at home and abroad in uniform

We must remember those other heroes who have made this land so great

The police officers, firefighters, and paramedics who come to us in our time of need

The doctors and nurses who care for us when we are sick

The teachers who teach us what freedom truly means

They too allow us to enjoy all the freedoms we know and love

This freedom was also bought by the suffragists, abolitionists, and Civil Rights leaders

All of those who declared with one voice, “We too are members of this American family”

Susan B. Anthony

Frederick Douglass

Harriet Tubman

Rosa Parks

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Caesar Chavez

And countless others striving to ensure everyone’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

From Lexington and Concord to Gettysburg

From Seneca Falls to Birmingham and Selma

Along the Underground Railroad

Freedom was paved

Even from the darkness of the Trail of Tears and the camp at Manzanar

People asked, “Why can’t I be an American?”

Why can’t I enjoy freedom?

And as this freedom slowly extends to all who seek it

The freedom to love

The freedom to pray

The freedom to achieve the American dream

We must ask ourselves

How might we extend this freedom which we so greatly cherish?

We extend this freedom by helping to ensure that every child has the resources to learn

Whether they be in rural, urban, or suburban areas

Whether or not they have special needs

Every child is precious

Every child is fearfully and wonderfully made

Every child deserves a quality education

True freedom cannot be achieved until kids are carried away from violence in the streets

When their weapons and drugs are replaced by a book to read

We also extend this freedom by combating poverty and homelessness

We extend this freedom by fighting against human trafficking and modern day slavery

We extend this freedom by welcoming the poor and downtrodden

We extend this freedom when we say “It’s On Us” as we proclaim that sexual assault can never be an acceptable norm

While we encourage victims by reminding them that it’s never their fault

And that in Christ Jesus, they are victors rather than victims

And we must continue to make this freedom possible to all

So that we can truly be that shining city on a hill

So while the trumpet sounds

With flags waving

And bands playing

As children are laughing

As the fireworks decorate the starry sky

While we celebrate this freedom

May we never forget those who have paid for freedom

And may we never stop marching on until all are free!

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