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|What Is Freedom?||
Over the last few years, we have heard repeated references to "freedom." In the war on terror, we are "fighting for freedom." In Iraq, we are making the world a safer place and giving the Iraqis the "opportunity to live free." In our own country, we have transformed our national defense to "protect our freedom."
The concept of freedom is one that most Americans would claim to comprehend. But after generations of living free, do we really understand what would be lost if just a piece of our freedom was taken away?
Remember the days just after September 11, 2001. The airlines were shut down for several days, and air travel suffered for months. Professional football games were postponed. Large events were canceled. The security measures implemented since then have cost us billions of dollars and countless hours.
Imagine what life might be like if those types of attacks had continued. Consider how different our daily lives would be if we suffered the litany of suicide bombers, truck bombs and armed assaults that are taking place in places like Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Would Major League Baseball have had an All-Star Game last week? Would the fans be willing to risk their lives and the lives of their children to go to a Homerun Derby? Football, hockey, basketball, auto racing and all of the other sporting events that draw large crowds are still potentially high-risk targets, but no attacks have occurred, so Americans feel secure to freely attend these events.
In Israel, even a night out on the town can be deadly. Suicide bombers walk into supermarkets and restaurants, detonating themselves and murdering anyone standing nearby. If this type of horror plagued American cities, life would be completely different. We don't even think twice about going to the mall and casually shopping for hours. We routinely eat out, never considering which restaurants might be safer than others. For us, they are all safe. We have not lost that freedom.
Every day, millions of Americans board an airplane, train or bus and travel for business or leisure. While security has been tightened significantly at our airports, record passenger volumes have been reported this summer. Public transportation continues to run as normal. Someone riding the subway probably worries more about getting mugged than bombed. The freedom to move about has not been damaged.
Recently, I drove through the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. My wife and I admired the majesty of the Continental Divide. We photographed elk and sheep in their natural environment. Never once did we worry about terrorism. Yet, I could not help but wonder what life would be like if we were not winning this "War on Terror." Would we be able to enjoy our national parks, beaches or public places?
It has been said that you don't know what you have until it is gone. Truly, we take so much for granted in this country that it is easy to lose sight of how much is at stake. If we lose our freedom, or even a part of it, we lose far more than most of us could imagine.
People who are concerned about losing their investments or retirement funds through the greedy, deceptive practices of companies like Enron need to know that what terrorists intend to do causes that to pale. They not only destroy the economic strength to care for our future, but they destroy our very opportunity to have a future. Peace and the potential for prosperity is one of freedom's greatest gifts, and we must fight to protect it.
We must understand the urgency of the type of leadership demonstrated by the President and his administration. We must not allow terrorists to shut us down and isolate us from the rest of the world. As President Kennedy said years ago, "We will pay whatever price necessary to protect liberty."
Our President has staked his reputation and re-election on his efforts to defend our way of life. Our soldiers are risking (and some losing) their lives to protect our freedom. The rest of us must do our part to secure the future for our children and grandchildren, not only for the sake of our loved ones, but also for the sake of freedom.
These are serious and sober days. The time may come, as in the past, when we not only choose a president, but also a future. May God help us.