First person: Freedom has never been free

Almost 250 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and over four centuries after pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, the United States still enjoys its freedom because of the sacrifices made by many during that time.
a boat docked at a pier with a ramp leading to it
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First person: Freedom has never been free

By Bill King
Pastor, writer and humorist

It has been eight years since we landed at Plymouth. No, we were not Pilgrims onboard the Mayflower. We were vacationers onboard a new Ford Fusion.

Nobody died on our pilgrimage, however, there was a time or two when we wondered if we might! We didn’t cross an ocean to get there, but we did cross nine states that didn’t exist back in 1620. Four-hundred-twenty-four years have now passed since they landed in the new country. Some died on the journey, and half of them didn’t survive their first year here.

Multitudes have died since then, simply so we could stay here and live in freedom. 

Cramped quarters

I’ve never seen the Mayflower, but I have seen a life-size replica of it. I was stunned at how small it seemed. The ceiling in the lower deck was so low I had to duck. I could not imagine 102 passengers, plus the captain, crew and animals on board that thing for 66 days.

Because it was a cargo ship, there were no cabins, bunks or bathrooms. They actually continued to live onboard the ship in Cape Cod and Plymouth for quite some time after they arrived here. That was because they had nowhere else to live. They had to build houses. Why? Why were they willing to put themselves through such struggles? Because they were searching for freedom … freedom from England and from the Church of England.

Freedom almost always comes with a price. 

Gaining independence

On the night of April 18, 1775, a silversmith named Paul Revere rode through the streets of Boston at midnight shouting, “The British are coming, the British are coming!” A life-size statue of Revere still stands in Boston behind the Old North Church.

That church is the famous site where lanterns were hung and from which the famous, “One if by land, two if by sea” signal is said to have been sent out. The British armies attacked at nearby Lexington and Concord, and the Revolutionary War officially began. This was the war that paid for our freedom — our independence — with the lives of the American settlers.

In nearby Quincy, now a suburb of Boston, stands three houses where our first vice president, who became our second president, lived. He was one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. John Adams’ father first farmed that land in Massachusetts that became his son’s.

Young Adams wanted to follow in his father’s steps and become a farmer too. His father did not wish so, so he took him out to the fields and worked him as hard as possible.

He had hoped when he realized how hard that work was, that he would change his mind. Instead, at the end of the day, he said, “This work suits me.” His father replied, “Well, it does not suit me for you.”

John Adams Jr. farmed that land for the rest of his life, but he also went on to graduate from Harvard, become a lawyer and work diligently to gain our freedom. After Adams retired from public office, he spent his remaining days farming and living out his life in freedom on his farm. He died there on July 4, 1826, at the age of 90.

Hard-earned privileges

We, as a nation, still remain free 248 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. We still have religious freedom as well. War was fought to gain such freedoms, and wars have followed to safeguard such freedoms.

May we never take such privileges lightly and without thanksgiving to God above and for the men and women who died here below.  

EDITOR’S NOTE — Bill W. King is pastor of Lanier Baptist Church in Lanett. He has served as a pastor in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi and as director of missions for Tuskegee Lee Baptist Association. He entertains audiences all over through his ministry as Billy Bob Bohannon.