By Charity J. Hernandez, Voice of Democracy 2017-18
It was 1775. Old St. John’s Church was as crowded as Sunday morning. Suddenly, an ominous hush set upon the people as the dignified orator stepped to the podium. As he spoke, the crowd swayed with anticipation and gasped in awe, for his speech was like no other. With a fiery tongue and a desire for change, Patrick Henry finally delivered his most famous lines, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” No matter the cost, Americans across the span of North America have declared this saying for generations. But change has come. People have taken this liberty for granted. They strut down the streets, proclaiming their rights and disrespecting our president. Have they forgotten the time when rights were foreign to American soil? Have they truly wiped the tears from their faces for the final time, after passing by the graveyard on Memorial Day: red, white, and blue bathing the hill to represent those that have died for freedom? Patriotism has become merely an emotion, rather than a belief. Nevertheless, our history has created a fingerprint on our country that will never be covered. Our country stands on patriots’ blood, patriarchs’ works, and the gift of sacrifice.
Since the Revolutionary War, blood has been shed for the cost of freedom. Thomas Paine said towards the beginning of the war, “We have it in our power to begin the world anew.” He prophesied of the glorious victory of America that would change the world forever. But words would not cut it for the colonies. Rather, words spurred the action of an entire nation to rally together and fight. Inspired by passion, Americans gave their lives so that we could stand free today. In actuality, America is the last free country, and through all the turmoil of this world her pillars, made up of brave men and women, have remained strong. Every veteran that sacrificed something physically or psychologically for our country, past and present, is part of the ingredients of America’s “rebar.” We the people have a desire for freedom, and we have been taught by the greatest of men—the patriarchs.
George Washington, sailing over the icy waters of the Delaware, taught us about bravery. Abraham Lincoln spoke of equality and the rights of all. Thomas Jefferson showed us the power of a pen that established a nation’s motto. So many people, whether they be from the 18th or the 21st century, have built our nation up from nothing to something and have created a miracle.
Along with these men, there were many people who also gave their lives for freedom and didn’t even live to see the war come to an end. But their words and their lessons of giving all for the cause of freedom will not be forgotten. America must be grateful for all those who have died and sacrificed. In the words of Nathan Hale, “I can only regret that I have one life to lose for my country.” That is the greatest sacrifice of them all.
In 1861, the brothers of America wrestled against one another during The Civil War—the most grueling war ever to be fought on American soil. It was fought to attain unity. But unity comes with a price—sacrifice. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” We, as Americans, thrive on the unity that God gives us. During times of war, our nation—because of the tears cried by mothers who lost their sons, the mourning of fathers who slipped away from their family’s grasp, and the brothers that never came home—has thrived, as people rise up together as one. Our history has forged a Godfearing nation, filled with the fire of freedom and burning with a passion for change. Our sacrifice has provided people with a hope of “liberty and justice for all.” Whatever happens in our nation, there is an entire generation of young people who know that true power lies in the gift of sacrifice.
Our hope for the future is that America will never forget the blood, patriarchs, and sacrifice that she has laid down for the cause of freedom. In the winter months of the Revolutionary War, soldiers would burn fires for warmth, safety, and light. We must keep to that method in order to fan the flames of liberty. We cannot forget the sacrifices that have been made, because the battle is still raging. The battleground is the world. The soldiers are the people. Our cause is still freedom. The flag is our banner: red for the blood of veterans that died for our sacred land, and white for the freedom that is a blessing like no other. The stars are the generations that we hope will come to the same realization that we have—because of our rich history and our God, America is, and always will be, free. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). Let the voice of Democracy ring in our ears once more—no matter the cost, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
Veterans of the United States of America, I thank you.