Thoughts on freedom as we salute independence

Almost two and a half centuries have passed since the 13 colonies issued the declaration that led to our country’s independence.

Among those 1,300 words are the lines from Thomas Jefferson that are most frequently quoted.

“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.”

Jefferson and other signers were in search of freedom from the tyrannical rule of King George III. Under the leadership of Gen. George Washington, the American Army was able to defeat British troops, securing the nation’s sovereignty.

And yet many Americans continued to be denied their freedom for more than a hundred years. Even today, the concept of freedom remains elusive at times. In our current political climate, the freedom most at risk might be that of holding a different opinion.

In between attending parades and picnics and fireworks, this weekend seems the perfect time to reflect on these thoughts on freedom from great leaders of our country and of other countries.

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.” — Maximilien Robespierre

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” — Patrick Henry

“I’d like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free ... so other people would be also free.” — Rosa Parks

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” — Thomas Paine

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” — Malcolm X

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.” — John F. Kennedy

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” — Desmond Tutu

“Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.” — Herbert Hoover

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” — Ronald Reagan

“Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.” — Nelson Mandela