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By Jesse Utz 

Don’t take freedom for granted

Jess Shut Up


The closing ceremonies of the London Olympics were Sunday night, and I can hardly imagine that we have to wait four more years to watch again. I love the Olympics, both winter and summer. First off, I like just about all sports. Second, there is just something so patriotic about watching an athlete with a gold medal around his or her neck, mouthing the words to our national anthem as it plays, watching Old Glory climb the flag pole above two other flags — and we watched that a lot this year. The USA did very well. It made me very proud to be an American.

As the flag waved, I was thinking of what exactly it means to be an American. Freedom was the immediate answer. Freedom was quickly followed by those that have lost their lives fighting to keep our freedom. All armed forces, fighting in the past and in current conflicts, giving their lives so we can continue to live like Americans and so others can be free from oppression and tyranny.

A freedom to choose. A freedom of speech. The freedom for me to write this column, and a freedom for you to choose to read it or not. The freedom to write a letter about your neighborhood. The freedom to complain about your city government. The freedom to ask for more money for our schools. The freedom to choose what you want to do with your life, what college to go to, what career, what city to live in. You can choose to be a bum or a millionaire. You can choose to go to the summer concerts and support your community or go to the beach with family. You can choose to read a book or pick up your glove and play ball. The freedom to vote for our leaders. Freedom to choose our own church.

I think we as Americans sometimes take these freedoms and others for granted. There are other countries where just saying the name of “Jesus” in public can get you arrested or even killed. There are countries where if your father was a plumber, then you will also be a plumber. No choice. There are countries that struggle with disease and famine. No healthcare, no vitamins, no insurance, no medicine. They are just happy to get their bowl of rice once a day as their community dies around them. Our cupboards are full of food, yet we say there is nothing to eat. They don’t even have cupboards.

We can vote our leaders in and vote them out. Some countries do not. I can pretty much go outside right now and walk anywhere in this community and know that I am safe. No one will kill me just for being there. In other countries I could be killed by a car bomb, a bullet, or beaten to death for being the wrong color, the wrong religion, or a female. Yes even in this day and age of civil rights, a woman can be beaten severely by her husband in a certain country, and she has no rights to complain or seek help.

So why am I writing all this today? Sometimes I think we take our freedom for granted. We complain about gas rates and food prices and continue to drive our cars and go to the store, when others have never seen a car or a store. We can go to the doctor when we are sick, we can work when we need money and if we can’t find a job we can get unemployment and other help. That is our right, as Americans, to complain, or to do something, or to do nothing.

Deep down, I am a very proud American. Sometimes I think I am not doing enough to help my fellow man or woman. I have friends that have gone or are still in foreign countries, serving others. Some are in the military, some are on missions. That is America at its finest. Helping others. We do that here at home too. A neighbor checks in on his neighbor. Join a community watch group. Donate to the food bank. Volunteer time to a good cause. Smile and say good morning. These are all American.

Congratulations to all the Olympic athletes. Thank you to our armed forces and missionaries, and God Bless America!

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