Today’s Memorial Day in the U.S., a day when the country commemorates soldiers who have died in military service.
As an American, I know we have a tendency to sound like we’re obsessed with freedom. It’s a word that’s bandied about by politicians, newscasters and citizens who happen to be walking down the street when a journalist sticks a microphone in their face and asks their opinion on something.
This week, though, I’ve been thinking an awful lot about freedom, particularly the freedoms I take for granted and the courageous people willing to risk dying as they fight for the right to live their own lives – whether they’re in the military or not.
This post is to celebrate those amazing people.
People like Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi Arabian woman who is in jail right now for driving. She had posted videos of herself on YouTube and was organizing a protest against the ban on women driving in the kingdom. Women in Saudi Arabia are planning to get behind the wheel of a car and taste the same freedom I did on my 16th birthday. I’ll be cheering them on at the Saudi Women Driving Campaign Facebook page.
In Syria, protestors have been facing bullets and terrible indignities as they demand respect for their basic human rights. Amnesty International recently released video footage people risked their lives to smuggle out of the country so the world would know what was happening.
Freedom of movement. Freedom to protest.
While I know I don’t live in a perfect country, and I believe there are a vast number of civil liberties we still need to demand and others we must vigilantly protect in the U.S. and U.K., I’m thankful for the people in generations before mine who fought so hard to give me so many liberties in the first place.
To the women who proved we could study for degrees and make an intellectual contribution to society. To the suffragettes who fought for my freedom to vote. To the flight attendants who first used Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to fight for less discrimination against women in the workplace. To the activists who fought – and continue to fight – for a more equal society.
To all those who struggled so I can live my life – thank you.
To those still struggling, I admire you more than I can say.