A Meditation on Liberty
The National Anthem, the Flag, Patriotism.. is it relevant anymore?
Speaking of the U.S. Marines who took Iwo Jima in World War II, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz said, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Is valor even a virtue today among common Americans? Has America broken faith with those who have died for our liberty? The danger of this possibility was known years before by our nation’s Founders. President Thomas Jefferson said, “Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty”. The great sage of our Founders, Benjamin Franklin, put it this way, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
As our Star Spangled Banner continues to wave over our nation that has been the land of the free and the home of the brave, let us never forget John Adams’ words to his wife Abigail Adams, on July 17, 1775, “Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” As the young Abraham Lincoln observed on January 27, 1838, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” May Old Glory remind us, even as our Great Liberty Bell silently yet boldly does, to “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
For Benjamin Franklin speaks for every true American’s heart, when he declares, “Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” That country is still the land of Old Glory, “the land of the free, and the home of the brave;” a land “with liberty and justice for all.” But as we say those words, consider Francis Scott Key’s question in our own historical context, “O say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” In Key’s historical setting, his question was about the flag. The question for us today is about the “land of the free.” We still have the flag. But do we still have our freedom? Your personal commitment to liberty will determine the answer to this question.