When I was in elementary school in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down.
It was a big deal.
My school held a writing contest on freedom (spoiler alert; I won) and the prize was an actual chunk of the Berlin Wall.
While I don’t remember everything, I do remember writing about how I thought it was good that we could travel wherever we wanted. We could go from city to city. That we could cross state lines without going through a checkpoint, having to show paperwork, or giving a reason.
While I wasn’t old enough to truly grasp the significance of it, I was taught about how one of the things the Berlin Wall did was restrict the German people’s movement.
Living on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the thought of not being able to go between states didn’t make sense.
These memories from 33 years ago we’re brought back by vaccine passports, federal mandates, BLM protests, trucker convoys, and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
These recent occurrences have been a profound dose of perspective for me.
Perspective is one of the most valuable things we have. It can be hard to get, and harder still to keep.
History gets farther away with each day, week, month and year.
It’s essential we remember.
It’s essential we keep top of mind just how fortunate we are to have the freedoms we have.
It’s essential to remember the sacrifices of so many who came before us, to guarantee the freedoms we have today.
And if we want to hold on to those freedoms, we need to remember that freedom isn’t free. That we need to pay attention and be active participants.
The price of freedom
116,516 Americans gave their lives in WWI.
More than 400,000 gave their lives in WWII.
Over 36,000 gave their lives in the Korean War.
More than 58,000 gave their lives in the Vietnam War.
Through 2019, 1,354,664 of our brothers and sisters have died fighting for our freedom in the United States Armed Forces.
On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution. Ten of the proposed 12 amendments were ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures on December 15, 1791. They constitute the first 10 amendments of the Constitution, commonly known as the U.S. Bill of Rights
These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the “Bill of Rights.”
The First Amendment guarantees our freedom of religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from promoting one religion over another, as well as restricting an individual’s religious practices.
The Second Amendment protects our right to possess a firearm and to use it for traditionally lawful purposes.
The Third Amendment forbids the forcible housing of military personnel in our homes during peacetime.
The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.
The Fifth Amendment guarantees our right to a grand jury, forbids “double jeopardy,” and protects us against self-incrimination.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees our rights as criminal defendants, including the right to a public trial without unnecessary delay, the right to a lawyer, the right to an impartial jury, and the right to know your accusers and the nature of the charges and evidence being brought against you.
The Seventh Amendment extends our right to a jury trial to federal civil cases.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.
While I was reading the Bill of Rights this morning, I have to be honest and tell you I didn’t remember all of them. I have to be honest and tell you it had been a long time since I’d done it.
And that’s why I’m writing this; because odds are it’s been a while for you as well.
Which of our freedoms do you value the most?
Which could you go without?
That last one was a “trick question.”
We ought to value each and every one of our freedoms, even when they allow people we disagree with to say or do things we don’t like.
They are all your rights. They are all my rights. People fought and died for them. They fought and died so you and I can enjoy them.
You and I need to stand up for them. For all of them.
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