July 2, 2021
By Victor Riches
“Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.” Future President John Adams wrote these words in a letter to his wife Abigail in April 1777, as the Revolutionary War raged. In his letter, Adams’ frustration is palpable: Massachusetts was not sending the troops needed to put up a fight against a much stronger adversary, and Adams worried about what that meant for the future of America. But Adams knew that being free was worth the struggle.
So how do we, as Adams said, make good use of freedom? Independence Day is a wonderful time to celebrate the freedoms we have—the ability to think what we want, say what we want, and live our lives the way we see fit. But it’s also an important time to reflect on how fragile freedom is—how precious it is.
In America, we have had the luxury to take our freedom for granted—to think that our right to speak freely, do what we want with our own property, make choices regarding our own healthcare aren’t really that important. That our very republic, our very American way of life, is expendable. Most of us don’t know any other way—we’ve had these things our whole lives. We don’t know what it is to live in a society without these things—which makes it easy to overlook what a true gift it is to have them.
Sadly, then, it’s not surprising to see that socialism has adherents on our very own shores. It’s not surprising that increasingly, our schools are teaching a worldview that strikes at the very heart of America, preaching division over unity. It’s not surprising that government frequently tramples on our liberties with little regard for the Constitution.
At the Goldwater Institute, we are fighting back against these worrying trends. Our work for freedom is improving Americans’ lives in very real and practical ways. Ten years ago, we designed the nation’s first Education Savings Account (ESA) program, and in this year alone, 12 states passed new or expanded ESA programs to help more students get the education that best fits their unique needs. We created Right to Try to give terminally ill patients greater access to groundbreaking treatments, and now that it’s the law of the land, we’re working to expand innovation in medicine to build the 21st century healthcare system we need. And we’re standing up to onslaughts against anti-American, anti-individual, anti-freedom teaching: Our academic transparency reform shines a light on what children are learning in the classroom, so bureaucrats and political activists no longer have a monopoly on kids’ education.
Each of these efforts makes it possible for more Americans to chart their own course without being guided by the heavy hand of government. And seeing the positive impacts that freedom has on Americans’ lives is a needed reminder that freedom is worth defending and worth protecting, because freedom has made our way of life possible.
This Independence Day, in the midst of celebrations and relaxation, I urge to you take a few moments to think about the value of freedom—to appreciate the Founding Fathers’ monumental effort to secure such a gift, and to determine to make good use of it every day. And as the threat to our liberties grows on our own shores, we must remember that freedom is worth the fight.
Wishing you a happy, safe, and free Independence Day.
Victor Riches is the President and CEO of the Goldwater Institute.