In America and the within the mobile community, July 4th is a day to celebrate freedom. We want to thank all our families who serve for our country to make America a safer place.
Independence Day and Freedom
During the last year and a half, many of our freedoms/liberties were limited due to public safety. As more and more vaccinations are administered and more and more cases of COVID-19 drop, we can become appreciative of what liberties we have recovered since the pandemic and how it was only made possible because of individuals who are dedicated to returning freedom to our country.
On the other hand, many Americans are finding it difficult to celebrate the 4th of July due to the inequality of freedom in the US as a result of systemic racism, homophobia, sexism, and discrimination. At this point, it’s beneficial to ask ourselves exactly what freedom means.
Freedom is defined as “the state of being free to enjoy political, social, and civil liberties. It is the power to decide one’s actions, and the state of being free from restraints or confinement. It is synonymous with the words liberty, privilege, deliverance, and independence.” Freedom is also referred to as free will, or the ability to make choices that are still free from restriction. 
Often “liberty” and “freedom” are used interchangeably, however, “freedom” is a little more concrete than “liberty.” “Liberty” is in relation to the state whereas “freedom” typically refers to a person’s choices in everything that they do. 
In the article, “What does freedom mean to you,” Craig Brown, Columbian editor discusses how The Columbian reached out to community members to ask them what freedom meant to them and how those perceptions have been challenged, changed, or confirmed in the last year. Below are some of our favorite quotes! 
“Freedom for me, like many others in our country, is all about democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality. More so, it is about the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as upward mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work and commitment. My father, a product of the Great Depression and World War II, stressed the importance that nothing is given to you; you must work hard for success. As such, our country is among the freest nations on earth; our citizens enjoy tremendous liberty thanks to the way our government was set up by the founders. A democracy is a government in which the people can choose our leaders. I followed my father with a career in the U. S. Army.”Larry J. Smith, Retired U.S. Army colonel, former Vancouver city councilor and Clark County First Citizen 2017 
“Because I grew up in a military family, I know the sacrifices countless men, women and their families make. Thank you to all who serve and have served to defend our freedoms in this complex nation we call home. God bless and protect all our active military and veterans! Ideal freedom is having the ability to choose and to be responsible for the way one feels, acts, reacts and lives one’s life. As Americans, we confirm our freedoms when we salute the flag, sing our anthem, cast a vote, and join others in celebrating America’s birth, July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence defines us as free Americans with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, with those rights secured by a government that derives its powers from the consent of the governed.”Susan Rasmussen, La Center resident, and president of Clark County Citizens United 
Independence Day and Juneteenth
It’s also pertinent to explore the connection between Juneteenth and Independence Day. The tradition of July 4th began in 1776 and while many people celebrate echoes of decades past, some people of color have never seen it as a symbol of freedom, considering they weren’t freed until 1865. 
Last month, we celebrated our first national Juneteenth Day held on June 19th celebrating the day slavery ended in Texas in 1865. While it has seemingly just come into the public eye, many Black Americans have been celebrating Juneteenth for years and often include its traditions in their 4th of July celebrations. 
Independence Day and Children
Now we have seen what freedom means in the adult realm, but what about for our kids? It’s important to have a conversation that helps children fully grasp what freedom is, why we celebrate freedom on Independence Day, who is still fighting for freedom, and how, in the last year, many people fought for freedom by means of peaceful protests, riots, parades, and movements like Black Lives Matter. Since many of the families we provide services to are in the mobile community, we suggest talking about how freedom differs in the United States, from the country of your current post, or the country of a previous post. Afterward, ask your child what they think freedom means, which freedoms they think they have, and what freedoms they think they don’t have. Here is a cute video with what other children think freedom means!
Larry J. Smith, Retired U.S. Army colonel, former Vancouver city councilor and Clark County First Citizen 2017 
“Freedom for me, like many others in our country, is all about democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality. More so, it is about the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as upward mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work and commitment. My father, a product of the Great Depression and World War II, stressed the importance that nothing is given to you; you must work hard for success. As such, our country is among the freest nations on earth; our citizens enjoy tremendous liberty thanks to the way our government was set up by the founders. A democracy is a government in which the people can choose our leaders. I followed my father with a career in the U. S. Army.”
In addition to having a conversation with your children about Independence Day, check out these additional resources for crafts, books, and related articles!
July 4th Crafts
July 4th Books
- Head over to www.epic.com and search “4th of July” or “Independence Day” for online books!
- ‘Freedom’ Means Something Different to Liberals and Conservatives. Here’s How the Definition Split—And Why That Still Matters
- Teaching Laws, Rights, and Responsibilities to Kids | Freedom of Speech | Kids Academy
- Moms Talk: How to Teach Kids About Freedom
- Understanding Children’s Right to Freedom
- Difference Between Liberty and freedom
- What does freedom mean to you?
- How we celebrate the Fourth of July
- What Does Freedom Mean to Me? – A Child’s Outstanding Explanation
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