We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. —William Faulkner
As a child of immigrant parents, the 4th of July has a deeper meaning for me.
My parents’ unique stories of their journeys here to America to escape communist Vietnam between the mid-1970s and 80s is one for the books.
In 2008, I lost my daddy to cancer.
At this time, I was able to meet the man who sponsored my dad when he came to America. He told me that he poked fun at my dad by saying, “Man, you have nothing, but your shirt and shoes!” And my daddy always replied with, “But I got my two good hands.” This is definitely something my dad would say (and mean it) and for any child of an immigrant, you KNOW our parents are the reason why WE work hard too.
As for my mom, she had a friend who said, “I’m going to America and the next boat is leaving. Meet me at this place at this time.” My mom didn’t think she was serious, but she was. She went to that spot a few minutes late, but didn’t see her. My mom never saw her friend again. She then went home and told my grandma what happened. It was then that my grandma made her get on the next boat to come here to America to make a better life for herself.
Because of my parents courageous actions, I have the freedom to be me, and a chance to chase my dreams.
The freedoms we have today isn’t free which is why red, white, and blue will always mean so much to me and my family.
However, let’s be real. Not everyone is free here in America.
Systemic racism is still happening on our very soil. BIPOC (specifically, our black brothers and sisters) have experienced oppression, injustice, and racism. Can we truly say we’re a nation of true freedom if we’re oppressing our own? No.
Then what are those in our military fighting for then?
They’re fighting for us to be able to live in freedom…without oppression. Our men and women have sacrificed and are sacrificing their lives for us to freely express ourselves, live our dreams, and exercise our freedoms to make sure EVERYONE is truly free.
I feel that this 4th of July is different, not just because of the global pandemic that’s going on, but because we’ve realized that we’re not truly free until ALL are free. That said, I implore you not to take your privilege and freedoms lightly. Vote and use your voices. Take advantage of your platforms to help and lift up others who deserve the same freedoms we do.
I pray for you to take time today to be in the moment. Reflect, appreciate, and talk with those in your circles about what this nation has done for you, but more so what you can do from here on out to bring freedom to all.
Wishing you and your families a safe and happy 4th!
Tell me, what does true freedom mean to you and what does it look like?