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From the Editor: Remembering “the cost of freedom,” versus its price

July 1, 2009

JULY

July 2009, cover photo by Vitaly Nikolaev

July 2009, cover photo by Vitaly Nikolaev

While I have been preparing for my own Independence Day celebrations here in the U.S., I keep thinking that, if our generation hasn’t already learned the value of the vote from this past, long-campaigned and youth-fueled election, recent events in Iran should be getting the point across.

Western nations are still imperfect in their quest for fair elections and fair representation (you can take a look at NY’s state senators if you have any questions regarding that), but we have come a long way.  The fight, against taxation without representation, for the freedom to self-rule, is long behind us.  But other conflicts, not just about dimpled chads in Florida, still go on within our borders.

As the first part of the HBO mini-series John Adams showed, the fight for independence was violent, chaotic and fearful for everyone, whether patriot or loyalist.  It wasn’t pretty: a militia-based fight is not the same as battles between professional militaries.  Emissaries like John Adams and Ben Franklin were sent to coax other nations into aiding a new country that couldn’t stand against the British, or even build itself up after the war, all on its own.  All these things, all the minutiae of human suffering it caused, the urgency of the injustice felt, and the sacrifice of lives, investments and family – these things are the price of the freedom we enjoy today.

In the past two years, however, I have also visited both the Vietnam War Memorial in D.C. and the traveling exhibit which, I am happy to say, includes a tribute to fallen soldiers in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq – dog tag-like plaques featuring the names of our most recent war victims.  This is what we are told is “the cost of freedom.”

It seems like most people who visit the Wall, in replica or otherwise, who are from that generation, are thinking and saying the same things: how sad, and what a waste.  Vietnam, history books and those who lived through it have said, was an old man’s war.  And they, at the time, were told that it was necessary.

This is the beauty of freedom and independence that so often gets overlooked: it is, in its purest form, the freedom to represent ourselves, to elect our officials without tampering, and to not be told what to do.  Part of that is deciding just what is the cost of freedom, and what is simply too high a price to pay.

My hope is that our generation never forgets that the Founding Fathers have already earned us that right, but that, as our mothers and fathers have shown us, it always needs to be exercised.

— keito, the Editor
July 1, 2009

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