On Sunday, March 7, my extended family celebrated via Zoom the 100th anniversary of my grandparents, my uncles and my mother arriving at Ellis Island, leaving Hungary and Romania for good. I look back on the freedom they found for themselves and for the rest of my family as a gift that I can never repay. They allowed me to live in the greatest country in the world, to survive the Holocaust, to get an excellent education, and to live here without war and in peace.
The freedom I have is to live where I want, work where and at what I choose, and live the life I want for myself. I cherish the fact that I am an American citizen with all the rights that it entails: the right to vote, the right to criticize, the right to peacefully demonstrate against the government, the right to pray as I see fit, and the right to be treated fairly under the law.
As we have seen only recently, democracy is not something we should take for granted. The will of the people is not something every country on earth agrees to offer to its people. Our country fought wars to establish democracy, to let us decide how we should be governed. The right to vote for whomever we want is a right that must be protected. What a privilege it is to vote, and to change who governs us by majority vote.
I am thankful that the governments we have provide the water I drink, the lights I use with the flick of a switch, the heat that keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer, the sewer system, the garbage that is picked up from my home, and the police, firemen and other public safety organizations that make my life free for so many other things I enjoy.
I have the freedom to travel to almost every part of this country and most everywhere else in the world. I have the freedom to call my family and friends as I wish, to see them via various technologies on my computer and to celebrate with them on so many occasions throughout the year.
Freedom makes me happy and joyous. Our ancestors fought for the freedom I enjoy. I pray that I don’t have to fight for freedom now or ever, but if the need arises, count me in.
Allen H. Lipis is an AJT columnist.