Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Sound of Freedom

One of the fascinating things about living in north Fort Worth is that our house is only a few miles away from Alliance Airport. The brainchild of real estate mogul and former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot, in partnership with the city of Fort Worth and the FAA, Alliance Airport is an industrial airfield that also serves as a training site for military aircraft.

A few days after we moved to Sendera Ranch, Brett was installing storage shelves in our garage when fighter jets screamed over the house, literally shaking the walls. I remember him coming into the house and turning on the TV, convinced the military was bringing down a rogue aircraft from DFW.

However, we soon realized was that it was the Blue Angels, rehearsing for that year’s Alliance Air Show (which, by the way, is an amazing show. If you’re anywhere near Fort Worth on October 24-25 this year, you should see it!).

After living here for a while, we’ve gotten used to seeing various military aircraft zooming overhead, along with the regular assortment of 747s and passenger planes heading to and from DFW. On any given day, we can see F-16 jets, Blackhawk helicopters, and other military aircraft that I can’t even name. They’ve become so commonplace that our family hardly even notices them amid our daily routine.

Except for one humid, overcast day a few months ago.

That Thursday morning, I was working at the kitchen table when I heard a noise so loud that it rattled our back door and windows. I hurried into the backyard, convinced that it was some kind of massive explosion, honestly expecting to see flames leaping from one of our neighbors’ houses.

What I saw, instead, was an F-16 fighter jet streaking just below the clouds.

A sonic boom.

I looked down at my two younger children, who had also heard the boom and, frightened, had come to find me.

“What was that?” J.J. asked, covering her ears.

I kneeled down to her eye level and pointed to the sky.

“Honey," I gently explained to her, "that's the sound of freedom."

Eight years ago, on a clear, sunny September morning, the world heard the piercingly awful sound of terror.

But today, if you listen closely—beneath the acerbic political firestorm over health care and bailouts and even our military’s deployment abroad—you can still hear a sound so precious that it makes America unique among all other nations in the world.

Freedom to vote without fear.

Freedom to express your opinions.

Freedom to agree--or disagree--with our nation’s leaders.

Freedom to attend town hall meetings, write to your representatives, and even post your political views on public sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Freedom to participate in a democracy that has welcomed differing viewpoints and flourished for more than 200 years.

Listen closely. Pull your children toward you and gently explain it to them until they, too, can hear it.

Because, no matter how bitter the debates may be, when it comes down to it, freedom is a sweet, sweet sound.

To those who have dedicated—and even sacrificed—your lives to protect the freedom we all too often take for granted . . .

Thank you.

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