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My Freedom, My Future, My America

September 12, 2009

Editor's note: On July 7 at the Hagerstown Tea Party, the finalists in the My Freedom, My Future, My America speech contest presented their speeches. Over five Sundays in August and September, The Herald-Mail will publish the speeches given by the five finalists.

Today's speech was presented by Sharayah Carbaugh, a 16-year-old home-schooled student who lives on a dairy farm in Clear Spring. She plans to graduate in 2010 and pursue a career in teaching, history and/or music.

On July 4, 1776, 56 men wrote their names on a sheet of paper that declared their independence from Great Britain and her government. What was their purpose for doing this act? Where did they get the idea to separate themselves from such a powerful country as Great Britain?

The Declaration of Independence itself answers one of these questions. It states the rights these men believed every person deserved to have. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." They fought hard to obtain and maintain these rights.

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They firmly believed that the current government was abusing its responsibility to protect its people and their rights, as stated in the next line of the Declaration, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

It is easy to see where they got the idea to separate themselves from their mother country. England's king was oppressing them and they were not being treated the way Englishmen should be treated. But where did they get their ideas of how men should be treated? Where did these ideas of "life" and "liberty" come from?

000200000B090000071BB03,It is almost impossible to trace the roots of freedom back to its first beginnings. You could say it slowly evolved over the millennia and was added to by philosophers until at last it was translated into practical laws like the Magna Carta in 1215 and the Petition of Right in 1628, which were the early English foundations of the American Constitution.

Or you could say that men have had the desire to be free from the very moment they were created.

Whatever your opinion is, it all depends on how you define freedom. There are three different ways you can define freedom.

There is physical freedom. A slave or prisoner is not physically free.

There is psychological freedom, the freedom from fear and guilt.

Finally, there is political freedom. This is the freedom to act truthfully and justly under the protection of the law and also freedom from undue government oppression.

This last freedom has been evolving over the centuries, but all three are based on ideas found in the Bible and ingrained in every man's heart from the beginning of time. These were the rights and freedoms that our Founding Fathers were fighting so hard for. They were fighting for truth and against tyranny. Not because they were looking for the power to do what they wanted when they wanted, but because they had a burning passion to see truth and justice championed without government hindering them. This is evident from the way the Constitution and the majority of the Declaration of Independence were written. They loved the truth and were willing to die for it.

So am I. I don't want to fight for the petty type of freedom that says I can do anything I want to do just because I want to do it. I know some of the things I want to do are wrong and would only hurt me and those around me. No, this patriot and citizen wants to feel the pride that comes from doing what she knows is right and then having the freedom to do it with the law on her side.

This was the kind of spirit that drove those 56 men to sign their names boldly on that piece of parchment that we now call the Declaration of Independence and this was the kind of freedom they were making a stand for. Does this same spirit exist today? Of course it does. It will exist as long as truth itself exists and there are men and women who will fight for it.

Does this same freedom exist? Lately, there is some small doubt in people's voices when they answer this question. They will tell you that the freedoms that we once had and that our founders fought for are slowly fading from this nation. All they will talk about is how the face of our government is changing for the worse. But even if our protection from the government ceases and the original plan our forefathers had for this country no longer exists, truth will remain, and true freedom will never die.

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