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Never take our freedom for granted

By Staff
Rep. Ronald Grantland, Guest Columnist
The Fourth of July is a very special holiday for all Americans. It's a time for parades, fireworks and celebrating the birth of our great country and the freedom that was won during the Revolutionary War.
It is precisely that freedom that separates us from much of the rest of the world. We truly are a blessed nation, and we enjoy more rights and liberties than any other country. We have significant freedoms such as the right to elect our own leaders, to criticize our government, to worship as we see fit, and to not have our homes searched just because the government feels like it. There are also very important freedoms that we don't often think about, like the freedom to travel across the United States at any time or to start our own business without having to bribe a government official.
But have you ever stopped to think about what it would be like not to have these rights and freedoms? When asking myself this question, I am mindful that it wasn't so long ago that our own government took away the rights of Japanese immigrants who had come to this country seeking a better life, like all of our own immigrant ancestors did at some point in history.
I am of course talking about the Japanese internment camps during World War II. It is hard to imagine what it would be like to be taken from your home with little or no explanation, forced to live in terrible conditions, and possibly separated from your entire family.
We may think that this scenario would never happen again in the United States, but as the great Thomas Jefferson said, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." What this means for us as Americans and Alabamians is that we can never take our freedom and rights for granted. We must always stand up for our own freedom and sometimes we must also stand up for the freedom of others. The Civil Rights movement is one powerful example of how, when Americans of all backgrounds and races stand up for the rights of others, it increases freedom for the entire human race.
In some ways, the freedom we have is like good health-we take it for granted until we no longer have it. So this Fourth of July, as we celebrate our independence and the beginning of our freedom as a nation, let us all think about and be thankful for the many freedoms that we enjoy in the greatest country in the world.