July 4, 2016

Thank You for My Freedom

Oh beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years

On a downtown sidewalk in Plock, Poland, a small city about 70 miles from Warsaw, my husband and I were approached by a woman who motioned to us to stop. The year was 1992, just two years since Lech Walesa became Poland’s president following the country’s first semi-free elections in 1989. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall had fallen at the hands of Germans yearning for a united and free nation.

The woman in Plock eagerly asked, “Are you Americans?”

I simultaneously wondered, is it that obvious? And, Oh boy, where is this leading?

She gazed at us with an intensity in her eyes I will never forget, then simply stated, “Thank you for my freedom.”

Stunned, we stammered, “God bless you,” as she stepped around us to continue on her way. I think I also said, “You’re welcome,” as if I had anything to do with it. But, in retrospect, I suppose I did, as much as any American who pays taxes and votes.

As we celebrate America’s 240[1] year of independence, I am grateful that The Hymnal 1982 contains five “National Songs” that we are free to sing in our churches. I pray that the divisive nature of our country today does not prevent us from including one or more of them in services on or near national holidays. 

Let us be mindful of what unites us. Our freedom, for which so many have fought and died, has extended freedom to millions of others, as I was reminded on that sidewalk in Plock.

Happy Fourth of July! Thank you for my freedom.

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