Fourth of July is a time for reflection - What does it mean to be free?

Wisconsin State Farmer
Letter to the Editor

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, we remember those who went before us, and what this country affords us to do. Truly, this is a time for reflection.

A farmer’s life is very busy, yet during our work there are quiet periods in which we can use to really reflect on some issues such as what does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be an American? What is Americanism?

To me, I believe that … “Americanism is simply the virtues that we live daily in our public and private lives that are required for a democratic Republic to sustain itself.”

Our forefathers believed that a society based on the 10 commandments where laws and virtues are required for a free society to survive. They believed a creator had given us tools to live and to govern by, to help our country succeed. They knew that the more morally responsible a society was, the more freedom it would attain. 

Benjamin Franklin believed in this so much that he created 13 specific virtues to practice. They are:

1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation.
11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

As we look on these virtues we can reflect and consider what true freedom means and what it requires of us as Americans. A true free society requires duty and sacrifice of all its citizens, not just the military, to thrive. We need to make choices that will benefit the society as a whole, and in turn we will have a more prosperous and self-sustaining nation.

In other words: “Ask not what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country.”

Freedom is not free. It is not anarchy. To be really free, it is our duty as citizens to embrace the responsibility of maintaining the virtues set forth by our forefathers and become stewards of our destiny.

Have a wonderful Independence Day,
Dan Peterson, Siren, WI