Freedom

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“Freedom is not free.” This is a statement that pretty much says it all. It isn’t clear who said these exact words first, but there is a copyrighted poem by Kelly Strong with that phrase as a title (kellystrong@aol.com). Numerous others have used those or similar words in books and speeches.

This month, the sixth anniversary of  the attack on the Twin Towers, is an appropriate time, I think, to reflect on our freedom, how our ancestors achieved it for us, and the sacrifices of our military men and women since then. Some well-known quotations are:

Benjamin Franklin: They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.

Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1777: Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Albert Einstein:  All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.

Clarence Darrow: You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.

Dwight D. Eisenhower: Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed—else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.

Edward R. Murrow: We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government.

Frederick Douglass: Those who profess to favor freedom, yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without plowing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.

John F. Kennedy: The wave of the future is not the conquest of the world by a single dogmatic creed but the liberation of the diverse energies of free nations and free men.

Mohandas K. Gandhi: Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.

Patrick Henry: Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

Pearl S. Buck: None who have always been free can understand the terrible fascinating power of the hope of freedom to those who are not free.

Somerset Maugham: If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.

Thomas Jefferson: I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.

William O. Douglas: Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.

Benjamin N. Cardozo, in a Supreme Court opinion, Palko v. Connecticut, 1937: Freedom is not a luxury that we can indulge in when at last we have security and prosperity and enlightenment; it is, rather, antecedent to all of these, for without it we can have neither security nor prosperity nor enlightenment.

Oliver Wendell Holmes: When a nation is at war many things that might be said in a time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured no long as men fight and no court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.

Ronald Reagan: There can be no greater good than the quest for peace, and no finer purpose than the preservation of freedom.

William J. Bennett, in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997: Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?

President George W. Bush, on October 30, 2001, said: “We're a nation of patriots. The attacks of September 11th, and the attacks that have followed, were designed to break our spirit. But instead, they've created a new spirit in America. We have a renewed spirit of patriotism. We see it in the countless flags that are flying everywhere in America. We hear it in familiar phrases that move us more deeply than ever before."

But I think author LTC (Ret) Dave Grossman said it best in a piece he called Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs. It is much too long to reprint here, but it can be found on the Internet at http://hobbes.ncsa.uiuc.edu/onsheepwolvesandsheepdogs.html. Essentially, he says that most of us are sheep, baaing away, while the wolves stalk us. It is the sheepdogs, in the form of  our military, that actually keep us free. How true!   -Editor