An Independence Day Reflection
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.
Today, the fourth of July, is the day Americans celebrate their independence.
Like many Americans, I am descended from men and women who believed in freedom and human rights, and fought for it, when necessary. I am proud that I am related to Virginia patriots who fought alongside George Washington. My mother’s cousin fought in World War II before he was 20 years old. He landed at Normandy and he saw his best friend get shot and die right before his eyes before he helped liberate occupied France. His service continued through Vietnam. My father served in the Korean War. They fought for the freedoms we hold dear in the U.S.A. and I think about their courage whenever I see our flag.
But I know and believe that any American who becomes a citizen today, as many people will, is just as much an American as I am and has every claim to our rights and freedoms. I wish everyone in the world did, as well.
Since I have started volunteering for the Bahrain Coordinating Committee, I never forget how lucky I am to live in a country where I can speak my mind, write about what I believe, and contact my country’s leaders without fear of being arrested and tortured.
I can stand in front of the White House or the Embassy of Bahrain and carry a sign or speak to passers by and no one will menace or prevent me.
I can go to church knowing that my government will not bulldoze it to the ground, as the regime in Bahrain destroyed mosques centuries older than the United States.
My teenage son can walk down the street without fear of being hit by rubber bullets or shot gun pellets. None of his school friends have been killed by riot police. He does not know that there is a country in the Gulf where enemies of freedom even desecrate the graves of young men.
When I retire for the evening, in my home, security forces will not rush into the streets of Falls Church, shooting tear gas grenades around and even into my home. That will not happen here, although it happens almost daily in Bahrain. My daily life is not filled with violence and fear.
Because I am free, I can fight for democracy and freedom for the people of Bahrain, not with a musket or automatic rifle, but with my words. When I watch the fireworks tonight, I will say a silent prayer that the day will come, very soon, when the people of Bahrain can live in a country free of repression.