Saturday, July 2, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation. ~ Woodrow Wilson
We celebrate this nation's Independence Day on July 4. For many, that means BBQ, hot dogs, fireworks, maybe a little homemade ice cream (fresh peach, vanilla, and lemon velvet come to mind...and the easy Orange Crush orange and pineapple sherbet, while we're on the subject...).

I just returned from Philadelphia and saw some sights from the birthplace of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. After learning more of the immense contributions of Benjamin Franklin, I need to read a biography of him. Long a Jefferson fan, I had rather neglected Ben Franklin and relegated him to 'elder sage' status, assigning him a role of author of clever aphorisms and pithy sayings.

I grossly underestimated the man.

We do that sometimes, do we not? We tend to label and box both people and ideas so they fit compactly into niches we create for them. Such action may come from ignorance or maybe from laziness. A well-informed citizenry is important, yet we get our news today 'pre-digested' and often fail to go to the source.

We get accustomed to a diet of sound bytes and high points, passing up the original source or document for a summary of what someone else says about it. Before long, we are living Cliff Note lives. We get our information from a scrolling band at the bottom of our TV screens or click to read thumbnail highlights. We do not have time for much more, it seems. I'm guilty too.

We can miss a big story and vivid pictures when we are satisfied with a brief summary crammed into a mere margin note. I want more color and flavor and the chance to make a personal decision about what is true and what it not. This will, understandably, take time.

When emerging from the Constitutional Convention of 1789, when our young confederation of states seemed about to implode, Ben Franklin was asked what form of government he had given us, a monarchy or a republic:

"A republic, Madam, if you can keep it," Franklin famously answered.

Let us endeavor to keep it.

May we be the land of the free and home of the brave for years to come.

This freedom is neither free nor cheap.

I pray for the courage and wisdom of leaders, for the conviction of ordinary folks to rise to extraordinary levels in matters of personal conduct, and for the support of those who defend our nation while we are free to enjoy the national holiday, eat BBQ and watch fireworks.

Liberty never sleeps.

Photo above taken at Longwood Gardens last week. Magnificent!

McHenry’s notes on Franklin were first published in The American Historical Review, vol. 11, 1906, and the anecdote on p. 618

1 comment:

  1. love the Ben Franklin Museum in Philly.....eager to hear more trip reflections!