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Let Freedom Ring

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike Hornitschek
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Commander
Inscribed on America's Liberty Bell are the words, "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." It was the same famous bell that is said to have rung out on July 8, 1776 from the tower of Independence Hall summoning the citizens of Philadelphia to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

The bell was actually created several years earlier as a way to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges, Pennsylvania's original constitution. Penn was noted for his forward-thinking ways, specifically with issues of religious freedom, his liberal stance on Native American rights, and his inclusion of citizens in enacting laws.

The bell was used until 1846, and the "Philadelphia Public Ledger" gives this account of its last notes: "The old Independence Bell rang its last clear note on Monday last in honor of the birthday of (George) Washington and now hangs in the great city steeple irreparably cracked and dumb. It had been cracked before but was set in order of that day by having the edges of the fracture filed so as not to vibrate against each other ... It gave out clear notes and loud, and appeared to be in excellent condition until noon, when it received a sort of compound fracture in a zig-zag direction through one of its sides which put it completely out of tune and left it a mere wreck of what it was."

Though not able to ring, the Liberty Bell found another useful service as it traveled the country after the devastating Civil War. At that time, America needed unity. Our flag was one such symbol of unity and the Liberty Bell became another as it fostered the healing of wounds from the war.

Today the Liberty Bell, housed in Philadelphia, is a reminder of America's quest for freedom and our unity in preserving it. On every Fourth of July, at 2 p.m. EST time, children who are descendants of Declaration of Independence signers symbolically tap the Liberty Bell 13 times while bells across the nation also ring 13 times in honor of the patriots from the original 13 states.

This Independence Day is a special one for me as I'm safe at home with my wife, Polly, and children, Forrest and Sydney. So many of our servicemembers will be spending the holiday on foreign soil. Every day "over there" is a battle for lives and national objectives. Over there, they can only feast on memories of homemade celebrations--parades, fireworks, picnics, family gatherings. I'm grateful to the continuing sacrifice and "service before self" actions that each of our Airmen display on a daily basis. My thoughts are always with the many "Showcase" Airmen who are still serving in harm's way throughout the world.

It isn't possible to think of these outstanding individuals without focusing on the tremendous cost, throughout our history, of freedom. From our founding fathers who were inspired to create a government by and for the people, to the men and women who have since defended this country. Many of our military men, women, and families have sacrificed the basic comforts of home and material wealth to "ensure liberty and justice for all" for each and every citizen of this great nation. This sacrifice is done without seeking reward or "thank you", but instead to protect their own piece of the world...their families, friends, and community.

With freedom, comes responsibilities and we work like no other nation to assist other freedom-loving people around the world. We must not get discouraged. We must stay the course. We must be brave and trust in our leaders, and in each other...for together we stand, and divided we fall.

This 4th of July I will be the first person to stand up and salute each one of you amazing men and women of the 375th Air Mobility Wing. I am deeply filled with pride and awe when I look at the effects you achieve on a daily basis and what you do to make the world a better place. Have a wonderful time celebrating this Independence Day, use the Wingman concept to stay safe, and may all our servicemembers return home soon!