Day 8: Freedom

As this post comes out on Veteran’s Day, what better thing to write about than the men and women standing on the battlefronts protecting our freedom? For that, they deserve all of our gratitude.

For someone who generally likes to talk about living in other countries, I forget sometimes that I already live in a really great place. A place where I have the freedom to write my opinions for the world to read, to wear whatever clothing I want each day, to believe in whatever religion I want to adhere to or not, to love whoever I want to love regardless of gender or race, to receive a valuable education, to vote for political candidates, to access quality healthcare, and so many other things.

For those of us who have been born and raised in this country, we disregard all of these little details and freedoms. I live in the small town Midwest, so a dominant white population is the norm. I’ve never had to worry about feeling discriminated or censored by the government or set apart.

I know people of different beliefs, races, genders and sexual orientations, and I’m grateful to live somewhere I can speak freely and openly with these people to help educate myself on a life that is usually drastically different from mine, where the norm isn’t always so easy. Maybe it’s not straightforward discrimination, but more likely microaggressions that casually jab at diversity with stereotypes and ignorance. And again, we have the freedom to do that.

Even with the freedom we have, that doesn’t mean we’re perfect. Far from it. There’s a reason we have Black Lives Matter and others wanting to build walls. With this freedom comes a greater ability to make mistakes, simply coming from having more opportunities in general. Lately talk has been toward rewording our daily vocabulary and creating safe spaces that ultimately infringe upon the very nature of freedom.

I don’t want to get political. I just want us to celebrate our rights as Americans citizens to start a dialogue and use our freedom to learn more and do more. We listen to the statements of others and notice the action taking place because it’s happening at every single moment. Just as we have the freedom to take a stand, we have the freedom to turn a blind eye to it all.

Just as I can admit that I only think about the role of the armed forces on Veteran’s Day. Or someone has to specifically remind me that women did not always have the right to vote or receive an education, let alone achieve goals in the workplace that wasn’t as a teacher or nurse. I don’t like to depend on other people. I like to just do my own thing. But I along with all of us would be nowhere without depending on the political and military actions of others, in the past, present and future. They aren’t freedoms to take lightly nor disregard.

So I am especially thankful today for the opportunity to openly thank this country I live in. I thank those who have fought and died for the our rights, even if in this instance, it’s just me typing random words on a website. (I’m sure they weren’t picturing that in their heads in the heat of the moment). I am thankful for a society full of different ideas that lead to thought-provoking debate and discussion. I am thankful for the courage of some people to leave their homes and families behind just to keep this society safe and intact. It’s something I myself know I could never imagine nor consider doing myself.

Perhaps in that respect, I’m a tad selfish, to regularly take advantage of the benefits of freedom without often thinking about the ramifications. All I can hope is to appreciate these gifts and use them wisely. Use them toward purposes that spark change, awareness and acceptance.

The debts for our freedoms can never truly be repaid, but we sure try our hardest. While Veteran’s Day is usually filled with programs and ceremonies commemorating military members, we can be appreciating the resulting freedoms we receive every day. We welcome and respect diversity, actively choosing to learn more about it. We vote in elections and educate ourselves on the important issues affecting our country. We give back to those in need. Simple actions speak volumes. Some of us end up on the front line of action. That doesn’t mean we can’t fight for freedom ourselves and stand up to injustice.

I am grateful the existence of the American dream. Some people think it’s dead or never existed in the first place. But if we look at the countless people fighting for their right to become a U.S. citizen, with a hope for a taste of that freedom we forget we have, I think the American dream is always there. Maybe it doesn’t look like the stereotypical life including a family and working up the ladder in a fancy company. Maybe it’s finally finding a place to live after being homeless. Maybe it’s just somebody’s first time marking a ballot in an election. The American dream is the beauty of each of us leading such unique and different lives across a vast space of land and yet all choosing to reside under the same flag.

Thank you, veterans and active-duty service men and women. Thank you to those who created the present we live in today. Thank you for setting the groundwork to continue shaping a nation that lives up to the title of “The Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave.”

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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