Why celebrating American freedom is so important to us all

Published 2:35 pm Sunday, July 3, 2016

The upcoming Independence Day celebration is a reminder of how important our freedom in America is to all of us.  Many take it for granted.

There have been so many sacrifices made through history to secure and maintain this precious freedom.

Freedom allows for us to speak, act and pursue happiness  without excessive external restrictions.

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It is vitally important because it opens the door for enhanced expressions of originality and creativity resulting in an increase in productivity and a high quality of life. This is not available in many areas of the world today.

Freedom is redefined every day as well as being defended daily.  Each new generation learns understanding and  appreciation of it by ensuring we do not forget the past.

Freedom is fragile and we should not take it for granted.  I had an interesting conversation with my nephew, Walt Garren, a true patriot.  He served in the Rangers and then the Green Berets.

He had many assignments throughout his career in foreign countries.  He still talks very little about his experiences but my family and I ask him lots of questions about his experiences.

Many he still cannot discuss but he provides some insight into things most average Americans have no understanding of or appreciation for.

These very brave men who serve in our country’s Special Operations Forces, including Navy Seals, Green Berets, Delta Force, etc. are cut from a different cloth.  I cannot imagine what they and their families have to endure.

We talked about the commitment needed of their spouses and parents.  When  they receive a call to report, often only a few hours notice, they cannot share where they are going, what their mission is, how long they will be gone.

Most of us could not and would not be willing to make these kinds of sacrifices, not to mention being in harms way.

As I contemplated all that went into preparing and then carrying out these duties I relate it to comparisons in our business world.

Obviously the scale is higher but the basics are similar for success.

Training — The intensity of training is far beyond what I can only imagine.  The training aspect is crucial.  So it is in the business world in that people who are not well trained often fail in their jobs.  Training is ongoing.

My nephew, as a retired Special Forces, now works on a contract basis for the US Army in continuous training for current Special Forces.  The Army has determined that those who are former active SF’s can do an outstanding job in the training of current SF’s.

Commitment — The level of commitment necessary  is over the top.

Without it SF candidates can’t make the cut.  In working careers in the civilian world commitment also goes a long way.  The amount of effort you put into your work is just as important, or more important than the actual work you choose to do.

Commitment makes the difference between wishes and goals.

Vince Lombardi said, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

Skills — SF’s must possess superior skill sets in various areas, including physical fitness, mental acumen, courage and strength.

Mental and physical toughness is required to meet the challenges of the job.  Benefits include compensation, camaraderie, development of leadership skills, just to name a few.  Skill sets for jobs in the civilian world are also varied.  Some can be learned while others are inherent in the person.

Teamplayer — Teamwork is vital as a typical team is made up of 12 members, each with his own specialty, but also a cross training in different disciplines so as to complement each other.

Dependence on each other to accomplish their mission is crucial for success.  The most successful companies today have excellent team work. SF’s make up elite teams and so it is in the business world for those who demonstrate excellence and superior performance.

Perseverance — Hard work, continuous learning, studying, sacrifice, persistence, etc. will generally result in success.  Overcoming obstacles and discouragements, dealing with disappointment, persevering through the hard times and failures separates the strong from the weak. Forging ahead, keeping going, in spite of a temporal failure will build strength for future endeavors.  Benjamin Disraeli,

British politician and author said, “  Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.”

SF’s are called Green Berets, Quiet Professionals, Soldier-Diplomats, Snake Eaters and others.  Their motto is De Oppresso Liber, a Latin phrase which means “ to free from oppression” or “to liberate the oppressed”.

Being oppressed is to be heavily burdened, mentally or physically, by troubles, adverse conditions, anxiety, etc.  Our freedom is not free. As a person who has never served in the military I have an appreciation, as much as it is possible without the experience, of all those active and veterans for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make that benefits me every day.

We ask so much of them and they need to know that the American people back them.

Most serve with humility and humanity.  What an example for all of us.

When we contemplate the reasons freedom is important to us we need to count our blessings,  At the top of my list are people like my nephew who have served with honor and continue to contribute in ways I can only imagine.

As we consider the importance of our freedom in America it becomes our responsibility to ensure its continuance.  The absence of freedom inspires us to a greater level of commitment.

Let us never forget how precious, yet fragile freedom is and that freedom is not free. God bless America!

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.