This month, we celebrate Independence Day. There will be fireworks, picnics, outdoor events, parades and good times with friends and family. We celebrate our liberty. We celebrate our freedom. But do we take time to consider the cost of our freedom?
When our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we will hang separately.”
Those men realized they placed everything they held dear in real danger. Many would lose all their personal property. Some would lose their lives or the lives of family members. All would experience many long months of hardship.
During our country’s history, generation after generation has been asked to do “the hard thing” to preserve the freedom and prosperity of our nation. For freedom’s sake, they responded by laying down their own personal freedom. While the Declaration of Independence stated each person has a right to “pursue happiness,” our freedom has required many to set aside their pursuit for the sake of others.
This is – and always will be – the price of freedom. There will always be a call for some to give so all may benefit. I am very proud of our military families, policemen, firemen, teachers, civil servants and public volunteers. Daily, they make the decision to set aside the pursuit of their own interests and choose to serve the interests and welfare of their communities and country. They deserve our respect and gratitude.
All of this brings me to a very personal question. Are we willing to pay the price for our generation and future generations? Are we willing to limit our pursuit of happiness for others?
When we look at our ambitions, priorities, and use of personal resources, do we find a pattern of “thinking of others” or do we simply “think of ourselves”? St. Paul wrote in Philippians 2, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others too.”
This July, feel free to celebrate our independence. Enjoy the hotdogs, hamburgers, family, friends and fireworks. It is, after all, a great day to celebrate. But, also take time to reflect on freedom’s price.
Find ways to thank those who serve us, our communities, and our country. Ask yourself, “What can I do to help others experience the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness that we celebrate?”