The Fourth of July brings to mind images of red, white, and blue scenery draped across a cloudless sky. Sounds of the hometown philharmonic orchestra playing “The Star Spangled Banner” and “I’m Proud to be an American” resonate in our memory from years past. Childhood friends reconnect over a burger and beer while watching fireworks splash in patriotic colors across the blanket of night. And we proudly put our hands over our hearts as the American flag waves high to remind us of freedom that isn’t free.

Cause it isn’t, ya know? It’s easy to forget how much has been lost in order for us to comfortably live in the land of plenty. I know I have forgotten from time to time. After all, living here is not a right but rather a privilege that men and women have died to preserve. Too many have died.  Yet, it has almost become ordinary to enjoy the extraordinary life we’ve been blessed with here in the USA. (I used the word blessed on purpose because there is no way to take God out of this nation.)

My husband has been an active duty air force member for eighteen years. He has been to Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, in obedience to the call of military service he vowed to live by. I have always been proud of him but this year, his loyalty despite the tumultuous state in which our country is situated has made me prouder than ever before. Through changing leaders and stations, he has always stood by his promise to keep America the land of the free. So many servicemen and women have dedicated their lives to this cause and to you, I say thank you. Thank you for displaying fierce loyalty in such uncertain times.

If there were ever a time to remember our freedom and bravely continue forward in the face of uncertainty, it’s now. Your dedication to this country gives us a reason to keep looking up despite so many reasons to put our heads down.

Do we celebrate the way we always have despite the current state of unrest that our great country is experiencing? YES. Do we sing loudly of our allegiance to the grand ol’ flag when we are rocked by bad news left and right? YES. Do we stand tall among the political chaos and ruthless finger pointing to defend our forefathers’ belief that God is in whom we must trust? YES!

If we don’t, then what have my husband and the countless other men and women serving this country been fighting for? We can’t let fear cripple us from listening to the voice of liberty. Her song is loud and strong and it rips through the darkest night to bring hope to all who will sing along with her. Will you join my family and I as we serenade the fearful ones with melodies of faith-filled triumph?

As Thomas Jefferson once said: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” In other words, LET FREEDOM RING! (And never, ever apologize for it.)

Harmony Vuycankiat

Harmony is a proud Air Force wife and blessed mother of 4 children. Her heart’s cry is to love without limits and live without regrets. She plans to use her criminal justice degree to tangibly help marginalized women and children all over the world. Writing, singing, and running are her methods of soul therapy and Starbucks coffee is her happy juice. The quote that she lives by is, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I’ve used everything you gave me.’ ” (Erma Bombeck)