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As Americans, most of us would readily affirm this statement, but many would leave that sacrifice in the past or relegate the responsibility of defending freedom to the armed forces of today, thinking that is all that’s required. But the sacrifice of those who have gone on before us is not the only price to be paid. The freedom we live under in America—or at least the ideal of freedom as originally envisioned—requires something of us, too.


At no point did our Founding Fathers suppose they would draft a Constitution and once ratified, the document would secure the protection of unalienable rights in perpetuity without any action on our part.

When asked what sort of government the delegates created, Benjamin Franklin famously responded: “A republic, if you can keep it.” That “if you can keep it” phrase clearly points to the necessity of an informed and involved citizenry for a successful constitutional republic.

Speaking of patriotism and standing for the good of our country, Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, said, “The amor patriae [love of country] is both a moral and a religious duty. It comprehends not only the love of our neighbors but of millions of our fellow creatures, not only of the present but of future generations.”

And, one can imagine these words, though they were written by John Adams in 1777, echoing from each person who gave his life for our country: “You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it.” [emphasis added]

On this Memorial Day, we give thanks for the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom—whether our freedom here at home or someone else’s overseas. As we’re witnessing assaults on our constitutional liberties, let’s commit to not allowing their sacrifice to be in vain. In the spirit of John Adams’ words, let us make good use of our freedom, and honor these lives by being willing to live and protect the very thing for which they were willing to die.

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