Liberty And Justice For All

Posted: July 5, 2008 in Compassion, Discrimination, Homelessness, Morality, Veterans

Independence Day is one of the few holidays that the federal government hasn’t fooled with as they have with so many other holidays. When July 4th comes around, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it lands on, that’s when it’s going to be celebrated.

This year, it just happened to have landed on a Friday, which means that most folks ended getting a three day weekend.

I published my Independence Day post on Wednesday morning, July 3rd, California time, and then went about my daily grind.  

Later in the afternoon, while I was checking my email I decided to check the blogs’ stats and found one comment in particular. It was posted by a U.S. Army soldier currently headquartered at Camp Liberty in Iraq.

It wasn’t a long comment – only two sentences long, but it spoke volumes. And it touched me so deeply that I had problems sleeping that night. Along with his comment, this serviceman added a link to his blog, Sand Box Adventures. Straightaway I sent him an email thanking him for his service to the nation, wishing him a Happy Independence Day and a prayer for his – and his fellow serviceperson’s – safe return home.

Late last night I logged on to his blog to see if he had posted anything new and found that he had. Here is part of what he had to say in his post, Happy Independence Day,

"Here’s how your Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines celebrated today. They served. They served you and each other.

One thousand, two hundred and fifteen of America’s finest assembled in the lobby of the palace for one reason only – to serve more. With General Petraeus giving the oath, the largest single re-enlistment in the 35 year history of an all volunteer force transpired.

There are no provisions in the oath for personal safety, family, comfort, wealth or pleasure. But they swore to it anyway.

So freedom’s torch is still being carried by a generation of men and women in the age of 18-40 mainly and it’s in good hands, and will no doubt, Lord willing, be passed on in better condition than it was given to them to the next generation already falling in behind them."

As I read his post, a quote that I have used previously in one of my older posts came to mind. It is part of a poem titled "The Great Colossus" by American Poet Emma Lazarus. The last line of the poem is inscribed on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty,

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

I always find it disturbing that so many Americans want to make sure that their personal freedoms are not violated, but don’t think in terms of others being entitled to those same freedoms.

I note two specific words which are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty: the homeless.

I wonder if when we discriminate against the homeless based on stereotypes; when we avert our eyes if we happen to see a homeless person; when we pretend they aren’t there when they ask for our help; or when we think that they are unworthy of our assistance if we aren’t denying them the very thing we claim that all American’s are entitled to: Liberty.

When we aren’t willing to adequately fund the types of programs that could create the potential for a person to escape homeless, aren’t we keeping them imprisoned in a condition that we ourselves secretly hope never happens to us personally?

When we fail in our responsibility to aid those homeless who we have the ability to help we are failing ourselves. We want the homeless to take responsibility for their own lives; we want them to go out and get jobs straightaway so that they’ll "stop sponging off the rest of us." Yet, by our attitude toward them, that they are unworthy of our help, we create the very barriers we want them to overcome; we create the closed doors.

The men and women of our military – past, present and future – have put themselves in harms way for the Liberty of every American, regardless of "residential status."

When we deny the homeless our assistance, we dishonor the sacrifices made by our nation’s military – we dishonor ourselves. Why? Because there are men and women who have worn this nation’s uniform who are currently part of America’s homeless population.

Don’t our homeless Veterans deserve the very Liberty they fought to give us?

  1. joep72 says:

    Thanks for the referral and for what is evidently a passionate ministry you have towards caring for the needs of the homeless. They are blessed to have you in their corner, as they are often overlooked and misunderstood. Your compassion for them is quite inspiring and convicting at the same time. Thanks for bringing this silent issue to light.

  2. michael says:

    It is you and your fellow service personel who are deserving of the thanks – not only from me, but from the rest of our Nation.

    Be safe. And know that there are those who, in whose thoughts you will be and who will be praying for your safe return.

    – m –

  3. AnAmerican says:

    The men and woman in our military who serve our country so unselfishly is a sharp contrast to the prejudice and selfishness displayed towards some homeless Americans. We are ONE nation of people who our military serve ~ it would seem fitting if we remembered that when interacting with each other.

    Thank for you reminding us all about the amazing bravery and loyalty that our military personnel engage in daily for us as a country. Their service to this country humbles me.

  4. michael says:

    AnAmerican –

    I agree with you about the contrasts between how our country’s military does indeed unselfishly serve this nation and how some of us here “back in the world” treat our fellow citizens.

    What is alarming to me is how, should one of our military men or women find themselves homeless, we will still view them through the eyes of stereotypes – despite the sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf.

    To me, it’s just not right – nor is it befitting of the ideals on which this nation was founded.

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