In all the times you’ve sung/heard that last phrase in the first stanza of our national anthem, have you ever given much thought as to why those two concepts are joined together? Reflecting back upon this past Monday when we remembered those who gave “the last full measure” to procure and secure our freedom, the inextricable connection between them becomes very clear.
We were established to be a land of free citizens through the bravery of a few who sought to make their home in a land of freedom. When those 56 men in Philadelphia pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor by signing our Declaration of Independence, they were bravely signing their death warrants in the eyes of the British Crown. It was their burning passion for liberty over their fear of death, as expressed by Patrick Henry, that gave them the courage to sign that document and bequeath to us the freedom we now see slipping from our grasp.
How is it that we sing this phrase and yet no longer act like we mean it or believe it? Are we a “land of the free”? Hardly; not like we were in times past nor as we were meant to be. Are we the “home of the brave”? For some we are, but not as many as there should be. We have those among us who are yet brave in the defense of freedom – every man and woman who put on the uniform of our military or local police and emergency service provider can be numbered among those who are “the brave.”
But what about the rest of us? Why are we allowing those we elect to represent us to create laws that chip away at our freedom without any accountability or repercussion? Why do we tolerate nameless, faceless, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats to trample our constitutionally-guaranteed liberties with their unconstitutional acts and regulations? Why do we cower in fear before them when it is they who should cower before us? Is it because we have become too soft – too afraid to stand up and be counted because we fear becoming like a few brave fellow citizens who have and now languish in jail?
We celebrate two holidays – Memorial Day, in which we somberly reflect upon those brave souls who sacrificed their lives for us, and another, Veterans’ Day, for those who have and currently serve in defense of that freedom. These men and women bravely left their homes to ensure that our land remains free, and some have returned, not to the embrace of their loved ones, but rather in a flag-draped casket.
So the questions for us are: “How brave are you? How brave am I?” “How deeply do you want to be free? How deeply do I?”
-June 3, 2016