Whoever you voted for yesterday, I hope you exercised your right to vote. It's just one of the freedoms we celebrate on this fifth day of November. There are quite a few that I believe are important... like the freedom to read whatever I want to read. Or the freedom to work wherever I can get a job.
Freedom is sort of a catchy word that people worry about using when it appears that their freedoms might be taken away. Most of the time people don't worry about freedom, otherwise. You might even say that they take it for granted.
Genealogy tends to narrow the focus to individual people who are responsible for our freedom. In my family there was a man who walked over a hundred miles with his company through mountainous terrain so that he could guard the Hudson River crossing at Newburgh, New York against the British. Across the border in Connecticut, his brother died in a skirmish with the British on his eighteenth birthday. In South Carolina another young man--just sixteen--held off a British raiding party. He protected his mother and siblings and just incidentally protected supplies for the American troops.
When we think about the early forefathers in our country, we tend to think of people like George Washington and John Adams or even Thomas Jefferson. But the truth is that most of the forefathers were everyday people who were willing to fight for what they believed was right. Most of them were farmers. Many went off to war, leaving women and children behind to hold on to that farm.
We're very fortunate that we've not had a war in our country in well over a hundred years. Yes, our men and women have gone someplace else to fight, but the battleground hasn't been here. But because of our good fortune, we don't always appreciate what we have. Our fields are not burning. Our women and children are not suffering rape and murder. We do not have to worry about fighting our neighbors--or even our brothers.
So it's easy to stand back, criticize our government, and loudly declare that we have rights! Yes we do, thanks to generations of men and women who have fought for them. On this day, fifth of November, let us be thankful for those who paid for our freedom.