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May 20, 2024


By John Queen

The Fourth of July is our Independence Day. Nowhere in the world is there a country that enjoys the freedoms America offers, and as you look around the world you will see Freedom is not free or easy. It wasn't for us, and it won't be for any other nation that really wants it. Iraq is the first example to come to mind, but let's look elsewhere first.

Here in America, we fought hard in the Revolutionary War to earn the right to govern ourselves, but it was a long time before external threats subsided - we had our capitol burned to the ground twenty years later. Almost a hundred years after that, we were still ironing out the internal bumps in our road to Democracy with the Civil War and the atrocities we committed against the Native Americans. I say that because a free nation must look at what it does in the name of Freedom and Democracy, and if the choices made were wrong, we must face that and never let it happen again.

Many would say that the nations in the world that are governed by dictatorships or communism are not our concern, but history itself shows that to be false. After World War I, we left the Germans with the hint of a democracy, but no one wanted to help or pay the toll to see it work. Twenty years later, the cost no one was willing to pay became Adolf Hitler and a second world war. After World War II, America lost hundreds of lives flying coal and food into Berlin in 1948-49 to prevent their collapse into communism. When the wall came down in 1989, the difference between East and West Germany clearly shows what happens when we make a nation's journey into democracy our concern and what happens when we leave their fate to others.

Korea is another example. We have left North Korea to its own fate. We drew a line and the country became divided, on one side freedom, on the other a dictatorship disguised as communism. South Korea thrives while the North Korean dictatorship starves its people and flaunts its atrocities in the face of the world.

Others have used the following example, too, but it's still a good one: If your child was in the path of a car, would you risk your life to save that child? What if it was the neighbor's child? What if it was the child that just went to the same school as your own? What if it was a child from the next town? The real question is: How far away does someone have to live before we decide we don't care what happens to them?

We all saw the atrocities committed in Iraq. In 1988, Saddam waged genocide upon the Kurds, using chemical weapons to murder them and dumping the bodies in mass graves. In 1990, the Iraqi regime committed routine and systematic murder, torture and rape in the invasion of Kuwait. These same crimes are committed all over the world. We have paid a heavy price in the 200 years we've been a nation. It was never easy. It will never be easy. How many people can we watch die and say, "Well, that's someone else's problem"?

The Fourth of July is our Independence Day. This is what our forefathers handed to us. It's what they bled and died for. On this Fourth of July, ask yourself, "What have I done to deserve it?"

Article © John Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-07-03
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