By, Louisa Cambridge
July 4, 1776, in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a young Continental Congress officiated the United States of America, as a free and independent nation. Free from Great Britain and its king, George III. When the news reached George Washington, the commander of the Continental forces, the declaration seemed a mockery. Situated in todays New York City, Washington and his troops were surrounded by hundreds of British naval ships controlling the New York harbors. By all indications, the American’s were losing the battle by a landstorm.
Five days after congress voted for independence, George Washington stood in front of New York’s, City Hall and read the Declaration of Independence to a crowd gathered around him. The message of disassociation sparked a riot, spiking already frienzied military tensions. Inspired by the birth of our nation, the crowd tore apart a statue of King George, melting it down to make musket balls they used to shoot at the British. A gripping account of this moment in American’s first Revolutionary War is told beautifully in Pulitzer Prize winning author, David McCullough’s book entitled, “1776.”
Thankfully, today, we are still a free nation, independent from tyranny. And although there are nations and peoples that strive to destroy our national values and take from us the freedoms we are privilege to have, we Americans, throughout history, have demonstrated that we know how to unite when Liberty calls us to rally. We rallied after 911, when being an American became more important than our political differences. I witnessed flocks of young men and women independently make the choice to serve our nation by enlisting into the armed forces. My son, Chris, was already in the Air Force when 911 happened, along with my son Patt. Later, my son Andy enlisted, serving in the Navy.
As a parent, watching my children make the choice to willingly put their lives on the line for a cause that was bigger then their dreams, was a defining moment in their growth as individuals! Particularly when they chose a cause that was bigger than my need to keep them away from harm’s way. I watched them, along with dozens of other young men and women, enter boot camp as uncertain kids and graduate as confident adults. I cried as they deployed.
Chris was part of the opening arena of Operation Iraqi Freedom… remember the caravans we watched on TV the first day the war broke lose!?! He was in one of the convoys carrying medical supplies to Baghdad. Andy, was a Navy Seabee. He helped build a city in Ramallah. Both boys, along with their fellow soldiers, endured constant, onslaughts of insurgents firing at them day and night. The sound of bullets whizzing past their ears become so familiar, it was easy to forget someone was always trying to kill you. Both of them came home as disabled vets.
Patt, a Farsir linguist was stationed in Qatar. He flew in rickety old airplanes that were made in the 1960s. His job was to listen to enemy conversations and gather information that aided the United States. The flights were extremely dangerous, because of their close proximity to enemy boarders. But Patt told me, he was more concerned about the condition of the planes they flew in.
While my boys were deployed, I came to know first hand the types of prayers, a praying person who has sent a loved one to war… prays. Prayers that have been lifted to God throughout the history of our nation. Prayed from the hearts and lips of soldiers, and the family members supporting them at home. For me, my most earnest prayer was, “Please let me tell them, at least one more time, in person, how much I love them.” I am so grateful that such an opportunity was given to me. I am also keenly aware of the men and women who never made it home. So are my boys, having each witnessed soldiers that were friends, die.
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE, is the message engraved on the Korean War memorial in Washington, DC. Years ago, when our children were young, Jeff and I took them, along with Grandma and Grandpa Kissell, to Williamsburg, Virginia. In Williamsburg, we saw a bit of America’s prerevolutionary war history. Old stomping grounds walked by some of our founding fathers, including one of Washington’s favorite restaurants. Next, we whisked our family off to Washington, DC, where we toured the White House and Capital building. The kids saw the Smithsonian museums and war memorials.
Dad stood, intrigued with the Korean War Veterans memorial. It was so lifelike, true to form. Even the rifles and canteens. The sight flashed him back to the time when he was dressed in the same attire, fighting in the Army his second war. His first being part of General Patton’s forces in WWII.
As a mother I am so proud of my boys for standing up to serve. As a daughter I’m also proud of my own father, Guy L. Ewing, Jr. for serving in the Navy in WWII. Daddy was issued his draft notice on the very day he graduated from high school. He left his childhood home in Lakewood, Ohio, to sail the Pacific Ocean, never to return the same. As a daughter-in-law, I’m thankful to my father-in-law for his service.
No, freedom is not free. The cost is extremely high! Freedom has stolen the innocence of our youth throughout the history of our country! From the brave soldiers in 1776, shaking in their boots, surrounded by the British, to the soldiers today serving, spending time away from their families.
This year, my family will celebrate America’s freedom by coming together for a barbeque meal, cooked by Chris, with Jeff and me supplying the side dishes. We will bask in the joy of being together, missing Andy and his wife Nicole who can’t be with us. We will rejoice in the gift of having Grandma and Grandpa Kissell with us. We will toast the freedoms we enjoy and those who have made them possible.
I would have loved to take Aldon to see fireworks. But his dad and Uncle Chris no longer enjoy them. The sounds and sights triggering memories from their days at war. I suspect Dad feels the same way, i know my Daddy did. Instead, we have sparklers for Aldon to enjoy and glow sticks along with fun hats. And it’s more important for us to be together than separate on this special day.
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all the people who have served this great nation. Giving an extra loud shout of thanks to those in service now. You are not forgotten! My thoughts and prayers are with you. Be steady in your service. Most importantly, be safe! And if you’re abroad, know that a grateful nation awaits your swift return home! God bless America and the ones who have made her what she is today!