The land of the free. That’s where I live, and proud of it. But what does that mean?

Americans weren’t always free. Not terribly long ago, in the context of world history, the United States wasn’t thought of and the people living in the colonies in America were proud British citizens. They were just as proud to be British citizens as Americans are proud to be American citizens. The colonists had no thoughts of ever being anything but British citizens.

But somehow, somewhere along the line, things changes. The British government started treating the colonists less like British citizens and more like people who were there simply for the benefit of the British government, to serve the British government’s best interests. It was a gradual change. It wasn’t anything major and huge that happened overnight. Many people didn’t pay much attention at first. But when the government is trying to look out for its best interests, that usually means higher taxes and more restrictions on the people. More and more people were affected. More and more people came to realize this wasn’t how British citizens should be treated. You see, there was in existence a British constitution. And British citizens were not to be taxed without fair representation. But the government was looking out for its best interests, not for its people.

The colonists tried to talk with the government officials. The British constitution also provided that British citizens could bring their concerns to the government and be heard. But this didn’t do any good. The British government continued on the path they had begun, and soon colonists were being oppressed for speaking out against the injustice.

So they fought a war and won their independence and established a new country.

Sounds so simple, right? But these colonists were real people, just like you and I. Imagine the heartache these people must have felt at the thought of leaving behind the citizenship of their homeland, of going to war with their homeland. No, not all colonists opted for that choice – in fact, many remained loyal and some even returned to England. And who can blame them? After all, England was their homeland, they were British citizens. Some colonists, though, knew the value of freedom. America had become their home and they realized America would never be free as things stood. They believed so strongly in individual rights and liberties, that they made the heart wrenching decision to separate from their home country, go to war against their home country, fight against (former) fellow British citizens, and risk their lives and their homes.

All for freedom.

Because of their decision, and their steadfast follow-through once the decision was made, I am able to live in what is known as the land of the free. So often I take that for granted. But when I look around at the world and at our country today, the sacrifice of those colonists, and so many others who have come since then, stands out to me. And I wonder what they would say and do if they lived today. Would they be proud of the country they fought and died to create? Would they still call us the land of the free?

What do you think?

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

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