We hear this word on a continuous basis, so much so sometimes I believe the word can lose its meaning. When our original founding fathers set forth to create the structure for a country to be free, what exactly was their intent. This idea of freedom is consistently debated among those in political office and also in bars. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines freedom as “the quality or state of being free; the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action; liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another.”

There is a report that is called “Freedom in the World” that provides an annual evaluation of the progress and decline of freedom in 194 countries and 14 disputed territories. The survey measures two major categories; political rights and civil liberties. Political rights are defined as protecting individuals from unwarranted action by government and private organizations and individuals and ensure one’s ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression. Civil liberties set limits on government so that its members cannot abuse their power and interfere unduly with the lives of private citizens.

The point is that looking at the world; the United States is one of 89 free countries out there. There are 89 countries on this planet that have the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to vote, freedom to organize political parties or oppose political parties without the fear of oppression. No matter what your political or religious affiliation, no matter what job you have or where you take your vacations; our country is free because people have risked it all to make it stay that way. The 4th of July is a great opportunity to be with family and friends. Grilling out, going to watch the fireworks or just sitting back to relax, but DO NOT forget that your ability to do all those things came with a price.

On Sunday we celebrate our Independence Day, we celebrate our country’s birthday. For those of you that were or are currently in the military, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you and people like you there is no possible way our country would have made it this far. Please have a safe and fun 4th of July and my challenge to you is to thank one person you for their contribution to this day.

Philip A. Guske