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Editorial: Freedom and Responsibility

By Remy Benoit

There is that word here, a word that floats in on the air from Paris, a word that has floated across the vast Atlantic, come to the shores of France on the uniforms of men who fought for it a world away. A word that is anathema here in the walls of the palace. What is this Liberté? What does it mean?

Liberty to do what, to be what? The thought that comes to me, the thought that unsettles me is, what would I actually do, what would I actually become, if I had the choice, if I faced the necessity of survival to actually make the choice of something to be.

To be something. The words choke in my throat. To be, something.

That implies, does it not, a responsibility for myself, without dictates, without the protocols of the Court. To be something, to actually make a decision, a choice, a difference.

Do those who speak these words understand the immensity of what they seek?

Of the right to make dreadful choices and have not the rank of birth to blame, but only, Mon Dieu, the immensity of the idea, oneself.

Versailles, 1789 excerpt from Loving by Remy Benoit to be published this summer by Pharaoh Press, UK

This is an election year.

That means that you have a great responsibility.

When this country was established it was considered by many to have been founded upon a pipe dream. Self-governance could only lead to chaos, to disaster, to the crumbling of the structure of the new country.

We have proven that conception wrong.

We have survived a civil war, international wars, total wars.

We have paid dearly, oh so dearly, for the freedom we enjoy.

We have a huge debt to those who have given everything to defend it over the years.

Our debt includes:

The responsibility to vote. Take your calendar, circle November 2 and let nothing stand in the way of the exercise of your franchise.

The responsibility to be informed, well informed of who stands where on what issues.

The responsibility to act rather than re-act.

The responsibility to think in terms of future generations and their well-being rather than immediate gratification for oneself.

The responsibility to not give away any freedoms to “protect” freedom.

The responsibility, indeed, the Sacred Honor, to remember these words:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The responsibility, indeed, the Sacred Honor, to uphold these Rights:

Amendments 1-10 of the Constitution

The Conventions of a number of the States having, at the time of adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution;
Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the said Constitution, namely:

Amendment I

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.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

We are the United States - each and everyone of us. In a representative democracy we are responsible for the actions, or inactions, of those we send to represent us.

The buck STARTS with us, it becomes what the US becomes; what we become.

The “shot heard round the world” was fired here.

Let freedom’s voice again be heard on November 2nd.

Go to the school, the firehouse, the town or city hall and let your voice be heard.

If we want freedom’s voice to be heard, it is up to us to make it sing.

Those we send to the United States Military Academy to lead our troops in times of conflict take a pledge: Duty, Honor, Country.

Can we ask less of ourselves than we ask of them?

Freedom’s price is dear.

Those of us who enjoy living with it must honor it.

On November 2nd go out and vote and let the idea of freedom of choice spread on the wind once again.

It is a heavy burden to carry; it is a blessing to carry. It is your franchise, exercise it. Don’t let the US be seen as sitting back and being complacent about the thing we hold most dear. Whoever is your choice of candidate, let your choice be known.

Preserve, Protect, and Defend the freedom that is ours.



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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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