Ah, summer has arrived and the picnic season is upon us. One of the most delightful ways to celebrate our freedom is to picnic.
Every year one of my friends stages a picnic for many old high school friends. We talk about all kinds of things - religion, politics, business, family and the old high school days - because we are free to do so.
It's easy to take such freedom for granted, but there are many places on Earth where one cannot freely discuss religion and politics - at least not without worry that he might have his head lopped off if his religious or political point of view is out of sync with those running his country.
We Americans have always been free to say and do as we please. We are free to buy and sell property or start our own business or shut it down. We are free to create, innovate and invent as far as our imaginations will take us.
Our freedom has unleashed an incredible economic engine which, despite our relatively slow growth of recent years, is still the envy of the world.
We have been blessed to enjoy such freedom, so we ought not forget its origin.
Our country's founders risked everything they had to be free when they declared independence from King George III in 1776. Our Declaration of Independence contains one of the most powerful statements on freedom the world has ever known:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Freedom is always at risk of being lost and ours has been protected and defended by millions of men and women who have served our country. "It Is the Soldier," a poem by Charles Province, sums up their achievements well:
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
This past Memorial Day, we honored the more than one million men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country - we honored those who gave their lives to protect the freedoms we too often take for granted.
That's something we must remember this summer as we enjoy glorious picnics with friends and family and talk about anything we dang well please.