Published on July 01, 2022

Independence Day 2022Freedom's Requirements

As we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, I have been reflecting on what US President Dwight D. Eisenhower once wrote about freedom. Given that he helped lead the Allied forces in Europe to victory in World War II as a five-star general, Eisenhower’s perspective on what freedom requires from us as citizens is noteworthy. He states: “Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed—else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”

First and foremost, Eisenhower asserts that freedom is nurtured in our hearts. Like all precious things we hold dear, freedom requires our loyalty and commitment. It’s not an outfit we put on and then take off – or a banner we fly on just on holidays. Freedom in our hearts means that we are ever-mindful of its importance, and that we are thoughtful in reflecting on what blessings we enjoy because of our freedom and what our responsibilities are to preserve it.

Next, Eisenhower stresses that freedom calls for action. We are called to make decisions about how we live, how we use our time and influence, and how we defend freedom from those things that might compromise or harm it. In particular, we are called to stand up for justice when we see something that isn’t fair. And we are trusted to vote for the candidates and laws we believe will make a difference. Each of us may have different responsibilities based on our job, family or other roles, but all of us have a shared duty as citizens to protect the privileges that freedom grants us.

Finally, Eisenhower specifies that freedom thrives on spirit. I don’t think he is just referring to just the feeling we get when we see the flag or hear the national anthem. Freedom’s spirit is the bond we share with others who are also part of our American experience – both the good and the shameful parts of our history – that help inform our way forward together. It’s the collective harmony we feel when honoring a veteran’s sacrifices, expecting integrity from our leaders, and knowing we can speak our minds. It’s the feeling passed down to children to love our country even while we work to improve and strengthen it.

This Fourth of July, let us continue to support and believe in the opportunities and promise of our nation – even when there are still so many ways in which we can be a better people and a better country. We can celebrate our Independence Day with joy and optimism just as our founders did, knowing that we are a work in progress. Because that is exactly what we are: progressing. And our commitment in our hearts, actions and spirit will help us continue to realize the great potential of the United States started 246 years ago.

As we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, I have been reflecting on what US President Dwight D. Eisenhower once wrote about freedom. Given that he helped lead the Allied forces in Europe to victory in World War II as a five-star general, Eisenhower’s perspective on what freedom requires from us as citizens is noteworthy. He states: “Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed—else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”

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