Fireworks, sparklers, the massive flag waving high over Ft. McHenry.  The loud and magnificent Blue Angels soaring aloft with their white jet streams trailing behind. This is one way to celebrate Freedom. 

The 4th of July is All American.  But freedom isn’t just an American thing.  If you think of it as the absence of domination by a foreign power or being subjected to a despotic government, then “freedom” is pretty much a universal thing.  It’s a Scottish thing when they threw off British rule 700 years ago. It’s a Romanian thing and a Turkish thing when they fought against the constraints of the  Ottoman Empire to become their own homelands. It was a thing for all those nations over the centuries that eventually gained their independence from the Spanish empire.  Today freedom is a Ukrainian thing. 

If you visit the Korean Memorial in Washington D.C., you will see the engraving on one wall that says, “Freedom isn’t Free.”  It’s a statement I always make my young tour groups recite out loud at least a couple times. This is only one of the several solemn monuments dedicated to those who served and who lost their lives in a war.   

Freedom isn’t free. It costs something.  Whether that be the lives of those who fought against outside aggressors or internal despots or personal enslavement or unlawful incarceration.  Freedom comes at a price. Sometimes the loss of life and sometimes the loss of a physical ability. Veterans of foreign wars can often be seen in a wheelchair or with other bodily injuries near the WW2 or Vietnam memorials in D.C.  Even standing up to wrong can cost a person their freedom. There are protesters in foreign prisons who took a stand and now spend their days and nights in small enclosed places without access to the outside. 

Freedom isn’t free.  It’s a gift. And too many of us take it for granted. For those who don’t and know personally what freedom costs---not even firecrackers or long white jet streams---can truly capture the gratitude for liberty.