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What Is Freedom?

What does freedom mean?

The question is often asked, rarely answered.

Citizens trying to be statesmen offer flowery orations, stale clichés and boring speeches that bounce of our collective eardrums. Junior High essayists compose awkward sentences for writing assignments, liberal academic types twist the meaning of freedom into something sinister and radical activists hold up crudely printed poster boards to claim dubious rights.

Call me a throwback, but maybe there is a better way to explain freedom. Of course, in order to appreciate this, you have to imagine what it would be like to live in a totalitarian state or under the oppression of a dictator. You also may have to know a little bit about our actual history, not some perverted or watered down version written by the revisionists who hate America.

So, what does freedom…

Taste like? T-bone steaks, venison, elk, moose, hot dogs, Coca-cola, corn-on-the-cob; salt and fresh water, powdery snow, succulent fruit from the San Joaquin Valley.

Smell like? Fresh mown hay, sawdust, gasoline vapors, diesel fuel of eighteen wheelers, fried chicken, popcorn, shrimp trawlers, the mixture of Manhattan Island’s Chinatown soy sauce aromas with the smells of baked bread in Little Italy.

Look like? Roller coasters, Memorial Day parades, huge American flags waving in the breeze, tears of joy on faces of immigrants at their citizenship ceremonies, somber rows of white crosses and Stars of David against neatly manicured lawns, veterans covering their hearts with their hands and a far away look in their eyes as the flag passes by.

Sound like? The click of voting machine levers, prayers in churches, 4th of July fireworks, pledges of allegiance, fervent voices singing “God Bless America”, roar of fighter jets crisscrossing the sky, the U. S. Marine Corps band playing “Hail to the Chief.”

Feel like? A deep blue passport in my pocket that is honored and respected in every country where I travel, the hugs of my family that I know is safe and protected, the lump I feel arise in my throat when I read the final paragraph of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, the gratitude that sweeps over me when I first catch a glimpse of The Lady when my plane descends into JFK.

To those who think that I am a small-minded nationalistic doofus who talks with a twang and makes my own ammo, I would simply say get a life. There are no lines streaming out of the U. S. of A. In case you haven’t noticed, they’re lined up trying to get in. They’re leaving the countries that you think we ought to emulate and coming to the country you despise.

To whom do I own my gratitude for freedom? Certainly not to you. You would never have spilt an ounce of blood to guarantee my liberty. Last time I checked, those were red and white stripes on our flag, not yellow.

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

—John Stewart Mill

And so, this July 4th, I have to say I am sick of the plastic smiles of media personalities saying, “Happy Birthday, America!”

This isn’t about a birthday.

This isn’t a superficial celebration marking a certain number of years since 1776.

This is about remembering what freedom is all about. I don’t hear nearly enough people talking about freedom. We obsess too much on fireworks, flag waving and getting the day off. We should be hearing the Bill of Rights recited, the Declaration of Independence proclaimed anew, and strong warnings to those who would dare conspire against these freedoms!

Just so you can review, here is the Bill of Rights. Red Chinese don’t have these. Cubans don’t have these. Neither do the North Koreans, Russians, Iranians, or Venezuelans. America is special. America is exceptional. God bless America!

Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Right to keep and bear arms

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Conditions for quarters of soldiers

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Right of search and seizure regulated

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Provisons concerning prosecution

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

Right to a speedy trial, witnesses, etc.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Right to a trial by jury

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Excessive bail, cruel punishment

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Rule of construction of Constitution

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Rights of the States under Constitution

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


You know you are free when…

  • You can choose what you want to be.
  • You can vote for whomever you want to.
  • You can support any candidate you choose.
  • You can say whatever you want to say.
  • You can talk to anyone you want to.
  • You can write anything you want to.
  • You can read any book, tract, newspaper or sign you want to.
  • You can spend your money however you wish.
  • You can buy anything you can afford.
  • You can take or refuse to take any job.
  • You can go to any school you choose.
  • You can study any subject you like.
  • You can join or refuse to join any group, club or association.
  • You can listen to any voice you like.
  • You can travel to any point on the globe you desire.
  • You can live any place you want.
  • You can worship any way and in any place you desire.
  • You can defend your person and property from any attacker.
  • You can paint, play, sing, dance, hunt, fish, shop, cook, eat, drink, party and watch anyway you choose.
  • You cannot break any law you wish to break, but you can participate in making the laws or electing legislators to office in a democratic manner.

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Reader Comments (1)

The Bill of Rights is very unique, and I am grateful patriots like Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison fought to include these critical amendments. Patrick Henry actually argued against the Constitution without the Bill of Rights.

The First Amendment has been particularly critical in securing our freedom from an overreaching government.

I did find one point that caught my eye, though;
if this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, then this right:

"You can defend your person and property from any attacker."

must be a "Judeo" principle, as it were, since it's not a Christian one. :) (Matthew 5:38-40).

October 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTim Garcia

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