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\”Freedom\” – Word of the Week

Definition of the word of the week (FREEDOM): The capacity to exercise choice; free will.

This week, we remember the 9/11 attacks that took so many Americans by surprise. After just three years, there are many who say that we should leave the terrorists alone. But, that naiveté ignores the fact that war has been declared on us. About 15 years ago, as an Army war plans officer, I remember studying the various threats to America and our class readily identified that although the Soviet Union was the most dangerous threat at the time, it was not likely. Rather, we predicted that America’s next attack would be from a rogue nation or some terrorist organization. Contrary to President Bush’s War on Terror speeches, terrorism is not our enemy. Rather, terrorism is a tool used by our enemies. For decades, we have known that Islamic Fundamentalism is a threat. When a group of people refer to your nation as “The Great Satan,” it’s a pretty good clue that they don’t like you.

British author, Charles Kinsley, wrote, “There are two freedoms – the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; and the true, where he is free to do what he ought.” However, doing what one ought can be a taxing duty. This week, we welcome home to Georgia Military College many of our State Service Scholarship cadets who have served on the frontier of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan and are returning to their studies. We welcome them back and appreciate their tremendous service to America’s freedom and to humanity. At only 19 years old, many of them have already made a tremendous difference with their lives. They have lived up to American songwriter Bob Dylan’s definition of heroism. He said, “I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.”

Chaplain Denis O’Brien, USMC, best described freedom when he wrote the following: 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 the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag.” To paraphrase American Socialist Leader Norman Thomas, “To us Americans much has been given; of us much is required. With all our faults and mistakes, it is our strength in support of the freedom our forefathers loved that has saved mankind from tyranny.” That is as true today as it has ever been.

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

There is nothing wrong with America that faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens cannot cure. Dwight D. Eisenhower, President

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. George Washington, President

Perfect freedom is as necessary to the health and vigor of commerce as it is to the health and vigor of citizenship. Patrick Henry

We who officially value freedom of speech above life itself seem to have nothing to talk about but the weather. Barbara Ehrenreich, American author

We are willing enough to praise freedom when she is safely tucked away in the past and cannot be a nuisance. In the present, amidst dangers whose outcome we cannot foresee, we get nervous about her, and admit censorship. Edward Foster, British novelist

If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. Noam Chomsky, political activist

People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid. Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher

I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking. Woodrow Wilson, President

It is capitalist America that produced the modern independent woman. Never in history have women had more freedom of choice…. Camille Paglia, Critic & educator

America is a model of force and freedom and moderation – with all the coarseness and rudeness of its people. Lord Byron, British poet

The only thing money gives you is the freedom of not worrying about money. Johnny Carson, TV personality

Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought. Let us have faith that right makes might and in that faith let us; to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it. Abraham Lincoln, President

Freedom is the last, best hop of earth. Abraham Lincoln

Freedom is an internal achievement, rather than an external adjustment. Adam Powell, Politician

Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future. Albert Camus, Writer

Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better. Albert Camus, Writer

A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad. Albert Camus, Writer

Woe to that nation whose literature is cut short by the intrusion of force. This is not merely interference with freedom of the press but the sealing up of a nation’ heart, the excision of its memory. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist

No one who has lived even for a fleeting moment for something other than life in its conventional sense and has experienced the exaltation that this feeling produces can then renounce his new freedom so easily. Andre Breton, French surrealist

I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of mind. Antoine De Saint-Exupery, French writer, aviator

There are those, I know, who will reply that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream. They are right. It is, It is the American Dream. Archibald Macleish, American poet

Security is the priceless product of freedom. Only the strong can be secure, and only in freedom can men produce those material resources that can secure them from want at home and against aggression from abroad. B.E. Hutchinson

Loss of freedom seldom happens overnight. Oppression doesn’t stand on the doorstep with toothbrush moustache and swastika armband – it creeps up insidiously… step by step, and all of a sudden the unfortunate citizen realizes that it is gone. Baron Lane

The greatest blessing of our democracy is freedom. But in the last analysis, our only freedom is the freedom to discipline ourselves. Bernard Baruch, American financier

Freedom of opinion can only exist when the government thinks itself secure. Bertrand Russell, British philosopher

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom. Bob Dylan—American musician, singer and songwriter.

True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what’s right. Brigham Young, Mormon leader

Institutions – government, churches, industries, and the like – have properly no other function than to contribute to human freedom; and in so far as they fail, on the whole, to perform this function, they are wrong and need reconstruction. Charles Cooley, American sociologist

LTC Patrick Beer, the Dean of Students and Commandant of Cadets at Georgia Military College, prepares this study guide each week as part of the institution’s character education program. He welcomes comments and suggestions from readers. He can be contacted by phone, 478-445-2710 or by email, pbeer@gmc.cc.ga.us