Soucheray: Remember freedom on this Fourth of July in WoodburyHave you ever thought about what freedom really feels like? Do we spend any time thinking about this question? Or do we simply take the ideal of being able to move about as we wish, live where we decide to purchase a home and send our children to whatever school we choose for granted?
By: Kate Soucheray, Woodbury Bulletin
Have you ever thought about what freedom really feels like? Do we spend any time thinking about this question? Or do we simply take the ideal of being able to move about as we wish, live where we decide to purchase a home and send our children to whatever school we choose for granted? I know most days, I do.
It’s sad to admit that nearly every day, I undervalue one of the greatest gifts we have, that of our freedom. This ability to live the life we choose was not always the case given to our forefathers in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America or anywhere else on the globe. Self-governance and freedom are the hallmarks of an advanced society, a society that values respect and demonstrates confidence in its citizens to make decisions that benefit the whole, as well as the individual.
When I was in third grade in 1963, there was a young boy who joined our class whose family had just escaped from Cuba. He told our class about his family deciding to come to America and the harrowing experiences his journey to this country involved. Even as 9-year-olds, it seemed strange that someone our age had traveled to such an extent to have what the rest of our class didn’t even realize we had: our freedom every day to live the lives we personally chose, or that were chosen for us by our families, not by our government.
What does freedom mean to you? Does it mean that you can live and work in a job of your choosing, having attended the school you set out for, complete with scholarships, grants or loans? Does it mean that you can choose your own partner for life, someone you met and came to love for his or her unique qualities? Does it mean you are free of exploitation of any kind: whether sexual, financial or personal? Does it mean you can give birth to the children you do and that they are all acceptable to your country, regardless of gender?
Freedom has as many different definitions and understandings as there are people to interpret it. For those in our community who have fought in foreign wars to protect our right to assemble, vote and practice whatever religion we choose, the Fourth of July is a day to remember their sacrifices and to offer our gratitude and appreciation. Those who have chosen to fight for our freedom in recent conflicts and wars have done so because they believed it was worthy and right to stand firmly for what they believe.
What will you do next week on July 4 to celebrate freedom? Will you attend a picnic or a parade? Will you watch the fireworks as they light up the night sky, blazened against the darkness, and I can only imagine they must be much like the bombs experienced by a soldier in battle?
Will you have the opportunity to meet and thank a soldier from any of the wars in which America has fought? If so, whether a male or female soldier, offer your thanks and tell them you’re proud of them and their service to protect the freedom we enjoy today and every day.
If you have time this week, stop by the Veterans’ Memorial in Woodbury, located just to the east of City Hall. You can see the flags flying from Valley Creek Road as you drive past the spacious parking lot, and if you can take a moment, pull in and walk up to the memorial and see the names of those who have selflessly given their lives from our own city to protect our freedoms. The Fourth of July is a day of remembrance and appreciation, as much as a day of celebration. Take time to remember and appreciate as you celebrate. And remember, it is our responsibility as free citizens, to recognize and utilize our freedom conscientiously.
Kate Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist