Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Price Of Freedom

Subject:  The Price Of Freedom

In many parts of the country... it's hot. In fact, it's more than hot...

it's sweltering. Yet, despite the heat and the generally somber mood of the

country, there were 4th of July celebrations all across this country. Its a

day of flag waving, barbeques, family gatherings, street parades, and picnic

lunches. Each of them will commemorate the founding of this country, and

each will remember the sacrifice of those brave patriots and every solder

that has come after them who has fought for liberty and freedom.

However, ten years before America actually declared her independence,

revolution had begun. And that revolution began under a 100-year-old elm

tree in Boston, when on September 10, 1765, a copper plate with large gold

letters was hung in its branches, declaring the tree "The Tree of Liberty."

To understand the inscription, we need to realize what was happening at the

time. The British had accumulated a massive war debt during the French and

Indian War and they needed a way to pay it off. Much like today, the first

and most obvious means of raising revenue was through a tax. And on March

22, 1765, the Stamp Act was passed by the British Parliament.

This tax had an effect the British were NOT expecting... it enraged the

colonists like no other tax had up to that point.

You see, the Stamp Act required a tax be paid on ALL documents: legal

documents, permits, commercial contracts, newspapers, pamphlets, and even

playing cards! The colonists viewed the tax not only as an onerous financial

burden, but as a form of censorship since it would limit the colonists'

ability to read and write freely.

The colonists' anger would not be abated, and one hot summer day, August

14th, 1765, a crowd gathered around this large elm tree in Boston to protest

this onerous tax. In the tree they hung an effigy of Andrew Oliver, the man

charged with collecting the Stamp Tax. There was also a British cavalry

jackboot hanging from the branches. An imp-like devil poked its head out of

the boot. In its hands was a scroll that said "Stamp Tax."

This was the first blatant act of defiance against the British Empire. This

is why the great elm tree became known as "The Tree of Liberty." And this

was just the beginning! As 1766 rolled around, the tree became a rallying

point for the Sons of Liberty, men who were to become the leaders and

champions of the forthcoming American Revolution.

Even after the Stamp Act was repealed, the revolutionary movement continued

to gather steam. And with the siege of Boston, the first phase of the

American Revolution began. British Loyalists cut down the Tree of Liberty in

a spiteful act of retaliation against the liberty-minded colonists. But the

memories and values that tree represented continued to live on in the hearts

of the colonists. Soon flags began to appear with the Liberty Tree image

emblazoned on them and were flown in many battles during the Revolutionary


And yet, for all that the Liberty Tree stood for, few Americans today know

about this important chapter in American history. We have lost our way...

we have forgotten where we came from. Our national memory of these events

have been all but left in the dustbin of history. Children today can't even

tell us who the Founding Fathers were. They can't tell us why this great

experiment in liberty was even begun. And they don't understand the basis of

what Americans have inherently believed through the years and why.

Perhaps this is why Thomas Jefferson cautioned:

"Yes, we did produce a near perfect Republic, but will they keep it? Or will

they in their enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of their freedom?

Material abundance without character is the surest way to destruction. I

tremble for my country when I realize that God is just."

Look around you. What we have today is exactly what Jefferson described:

"Material abundance without character." And that lack of character brings us

lack of morals and integrity in the political process, with elected

officials who are more worried about the money they can squirrel away in

their freezers and offshore accounts than they are about keeping the

Republic. We live in a time when avarice and illusions of power compel men

and women to enslave their constituents in onerous tax burdens and to

deprive them of their inherent rights under God.

We need to remember. We need to remember how our liberty was won. We need to

remember the virtues of faith, love, and self-discipline. We need to

remember the values and morals that made this country great.


No comments: