Monday, July 5, 2010

What Does Independence Day Mean To You?


Yesterday, I asked what Independence Day means to my readers and I received one of those comments that is just too good to be buried in the comments forever. The comment was left by author J. W. Nicklaus, author of The Light, The Dark and Ember Between, a collection of fifteen short stories. From the wispy fog of a love lost at sea, to an orphaned child who delivers a present of her own during a war-torn Christmas. These stories are gentle reminders to each of us of what it is to be human, and certainly of our affinity for the slightest glint of hope.
You can find J.W. here at his Pump UP tour page

Here is the comment J. W. Nicklaus left in response to the Question; What does Independence Day mean to you?

To be American mean to be free--but with a gift as precious as freedom comes responsibility. Freedom, for many of us, means the ability to come and go as we please, to speak our minds, to travel, to exist within a certain framework of openness. For others it implies opportunity, perhaps to start over or simply achieve and excel more than possible before. For a point of reference, here is the strict definition of the word:


In his book The Story of American Freedom, Eric Foner sums it up this way:
"Americans have sometimes believed they enjoy the greatest freedom of all--freedom from history. No people can escape from being bound, to some extent, by their past. But if history teaches anything it is that the definitions of freedom and of the community entitled to enjoy it, are never fixed or final.

We may not have it in our power, as Thomas Paine proclaimed in 1776, "to begin the world over again." But we can decide for ourselves what freedom is."
Here is something I wrote back in 2006 for a site I did about our Constitution. I titled this little sections "A Separate and Equal Station":

Men of great intelligence and passion took tremendous risks with their lives in the hopes that liberty would carry an infant nation, raise it above blueblood tyranny and respirate with the incendiary breath of righteousness. Wills of stone and hearts of kings carved away from English rule what "ought to be," staving off a thrashing imperialistic beast. Are such men still among us?

Who now can see a million stars lying upon the water, and carefully, judiciously, ripple the water for the greater good and not self-interest--make good come from past mistakes, and one-by-one set the peoples' victories to breathe in the velvet warmth of the midday sun?

Who will stand apart from the shrill voices of deception and answer honestly for every action?

At the root of all politics, of any movement of philosophy or philanthropy, sits the frailty of humanity. Its very nature an anathema as well as a gift. Amidst such documents of great intention and purpose should be men and women not only willing to exercise their humanity, but do so bereft of personal gain, save that of fulfilling a love of service to their country.

Perhaps our form of government isn't the gold standard. It certainly isn't perfect. On every issue, at every turn, stand opposing viewpoints and vehement exertions urging the behest of each one. Underneath it all should quietly but dependably beat the heart of a patriot. Never, not in our lifetimes, nor that of our children or their children in perpetuity, should any of us witness the dying gasp of freedom. It will always assuredly struggle and fight within itself, for out of that comes understanding. Unbridled it should never labor so, but raised with the discipline of proper loyalty it will prosper and mature.

Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense, "Time makes more converts than Reason." With a little help from Providence, Liberty will continue to hold her lamp aside the golden door, and we'll be ever vigilant as we watch through the window of Time.


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