“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.” — The Declaration of Independence
As the Fourth of July approaches we hope you’ll consider the role newspapers play in reflecting the many freedoms we enjoy in these United States of America and be reminded as you read each page just how great those freedoms are. The Homer News, this week and every week, is filled with examples of our freedom to engage in individual pursuits of happiness — whether it’s learning more about the place we call home in a harbor tour, running in the annual Spit Run, taking part in regatta on Kachemak Bay, gardening or fishing or … well, the list goes on, doesn’t it?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” — The First Amendment
Newspapers — just like the one you’re holding in your hand or the one you’re reading online — embody the essence of freedom. But newspapers are far more than a byproduct of the First Amendment. If you look closely, you can see freedom in all its forms ringing out from every page, every week.
Take the front page of the Homer News this week. Former U.S. Army Sgt. Randy Clifford is an example of the high price of freedom. Clifford took a bullet in the back when he served in Vietnam. After being separated from the many medals his military service earned him, he was given a new set of medals in a ceremony last Saturday. Men and women like Clifford are the reason the rest of us get to enjoy our freedom.
The gathering to celebrate the life of Homer musician Ray Garrity is a great example of our ability — our freedom — to peaceably assemble for all kinds of reasons — including to pay tribute to a much loved Homer resident.
The story on the new halibut catch sharing proposal shows our freedom — also our responsibility — to be involved in the decisions that affect us.
Farther back in the paper, there’s the Worship Directory, a weekly reminder of our freedom to practice any religion we choose or none at all.
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” — The Declaration of Independence
Virtually every week we have a story or stories that should remind us that government exists for “the Safety and Happiness” — as the Declaration of Independence puts it — of the people and not the other way around. More often than not there’s disagreement in those government stories — a reminder that we are free to speak our minds without fear of retribution.
When we don’t like something, we are free to work to change it. Homer’s plastic bag ordinance, the borough’s anadromous streams ordinance and the statewide effort to repeal Senate Bill 21, often called the oil tax giveaway, immediately come to mind as examples.
Alas, freedom doesn’t mean we always get our way, but it does mean we are free to work for change. The flip side of freedom is the responsibility we have to set things right when we think government has acted wrongly.
The advertising in the newspaper is a reminder of our freedom to do business with one another. Our system of commerce isn’t a free-for-all, but there’s plenty of room to allow those with a great idea and work ethic to pursue their dreams. The advertisers in the Homer News are proof the American dream is alive and well.
In the end, freedom and opportunity seem almost synonymous. That’s why we love the “thank you” letters from students at this time of year. Those letters express the students’ gratitude for the opportunities they’ve found in this community and the opportunities they have to go explore the world outside their hometown — and possibly get new views about freedom.
If you want to know what’s great about this country — or just need a reminder — we encourage you to read this newspaper every week with an eye toward freedom and then share it with a friend. We’re convinced you’ll find the “blessings of liberty” stamped on every page.