FREEDOM IS NOT FREE!
"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to
indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love."
The audio, print, and visual media have all been telling us for days that
this weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. For many people, it will only be a
well-deserved four-day weekend with all the attendant barbeques and picnics.
Food and beverage will highlight family, friends, and neighbors gathering in
a backyard or park. A few fireworks displays and the isolated solemn
service will be the only testimonies to the valor and sacrifice on the part
of those who paid for this national holiday. The tremendous freedoms we
enjoy in America have become so much a part of our national fabric that we
hardly acknowledge those who paid for them!
Did you know, for instance, that 4,000-5,000 brave Americans gave their
lives for our freedom during the American Revolution? Did you know that
approximately 2,000 died in the War of 1812, 13,000 in the Mexican War, and
over 600,000 in the bloody Civil War? Did you know that of the 5,462 who
died in the Spanish-American War, 90% of the casualties were caused by
wretched diseases? 112,000 brave Americans gave their lives in World War I,
and 405,000 died in World War II. The Korean War claimed 54,200 Americans,
and the Vietnam War twice that (109,000). Of late, the 1st Gulf War claimed
148, and the 2nd Gulf War continues to claim its casualties (presently over
How could anyone doubt the truth that freedom isnt free?! Its ultimate
cost has been painfully paid from Bunker Hill and Concord, through World
Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam, to the searing heat of the Arabian desert.
Washingtons Continental Army paid the down payment at Valley Forge, and the
framers of the Constitution paid consistent installments by losing their
families, fortunes, and homes. As Thomas Jefferson said to James Madison,
"In order for the tree of liberty to survive, it must be watered by the
blood of its patriots in each generation."
Liberty is a strange and illusive commodity. It is like health in that we
dont really appreciate it until we lose it! Freedom is indivisible, but
you can lose it little by little! Freedom is not the results of a process,
but it is a process by which we obtain personal, economic, and social
well-being. Freedom is the birthright of every American, but it must be
earned over and over again!
Freedom does not belong to philosophers in their isolated bastions of
intellectual speculation, but to ordinary men and women. Freedom rides to
work with factory workers and deploys with American soldiers and Marines to
far-flung shores. It rides the farmers tractor and the truckers big rig.
It tells the news honestly --- the good AND the bad. It gives the citizens
of our free society a mirror to show them what they really are so they can
make the needed changes and improvements.
To be truly free, Americans must be free "to" and "from" something.
free to determine what is right, and we are free to do it. We are free to
wrestle intently with our own mistakes and wrongs, free to debate them, and
free to argue with each other about them. We are free to make up our own
mind about our religious faith, and even free to reject faith at all! Our
uncoerced faith, freely derived in minds and hearts responding to God's
initiative, is the paramount evidence of true liberty.
We are free from tyranny --- whether political, social, intellectual, or
spiritual. However, its not just the "free from" aspect which marks us as
a people historically, but the "free to" characteristic. Freedom is doing;
it is action and concern. Freedom is the helping hand extended to others
when they need it.
True freedom is shared by all or no one really has it. It is not the
exclusive possession of a majority nor the blocking technique of a minority.
Freedom is the open arena of thoughts and ideas. It is NOT the destructive
actions of those who would burn churches or desecrate sacred symbols.
Freedom is loud and even vehement debate about political candidates and
issues, but it is NOT refusal to vote --- an exercise for which thousands of
Americans have bled and died. Simple grave markers speak profoundly around
the world to the sacrifices of Americans of every persuasion for the liberty
Whats the status of your freedom in 2003? Are you using the opportunities
youve been given to grow educationally, spiritually, emotionally, and
professionally? Do you vote your conscience in local, state, and national
elections? Are you going beyond meeting your own needs to assist someone
else who needs it? Freedom lies far more in using it than merely having it!
For the holiday, enjoy the picnics and cookouts. Enjoy the holiday with
family and friends. Just remember, though, that freedoms work is done 365
days per year. It's our way of expressing appreciation to those who died to
give it to us!
Hershel Don Yancey, D.Min.
4573 Pintail Court
Martinez, GA 30907-8872
Home: (706) 650-5846
Office: (706) 733-0047
Church Webpage: www.firstarpaugusta.org