[Lott] Our Independence Day

As we celebrate our freedom this July 4th, we should remember our troops abroad and what it takes to remain free. We should also pray that former terrorist states Afghanistan and Iraq can achieve a lasting freedom in the coming years. While we Americans have known freedom all our lives, these people are just beginning. It is new to them. But once freedom is tasted, there's no going back. We hope they one day celebrate their own Independence Day.

We are seeing anti-American protests and propaganda right now in Europe and here, too, in our own movie theaters. Of course, the misguided malcontents who perpetuate these views are fairly far-out, likening America to a police or terrorist state. They use their freedom and independence to badmouth America while curiously remaining mute about the real terrorists and dictators who kill for fun and whose nations denied so much to so many for so long.

Truth is, America is far from a police state but is a coveted bastion of freedom where people have sought independence for generations. Millions left Europe for America in the 19th Century, and they stayed. The Berlin Wall was a one-way street. You didn't see people risking life and limb to go East. They were putting everything on the line to go West, toward America and freedom. Since America's earliest days, people have continued to flock here for unprecedented opportunities. That's really what we celebrate on July 4th—freedom's success.

Some people say our nation is almost evenly divided between conservatives and liberals—Republicans and Democrats—and that the close margins and party-line Senate votes reflect that. Well, I take a different view. I think the country is more unified than many folks realize. Except for the very weird but wordy fringe who deny clear reality to make political points, most Americans see past the partisan babble of the day. Most Americans remain proud of our country and our military. We believe that defeating terrorists is crucial to our continued freedom. The Senate reflects this view. Senators passed this year's Defense Authorization Bill without opposition. It's reassuring to know that most Senators still believe in fully supporting our troops with the best equipment and training, even though we continue to disagree about some strategy of the War on Terror.

It's a fact: America is the broker of freedom in the world today. What other nation is better suited for it? Is there another country the malcontents believe would be a better guardian of liberty? It's clear the entire free world depends on America's political, economic and military leadership as a buffer against real-life terrorists and real-life police states. It's why we must always vigorously invest in our defense. We need to continue supporting technologies and next-generation weapons like the stealthy, futuristic DD(X) destroyers which, by the way, the defense bill specifies will be built in Mississippi. America must maintain a strong military with a commanding edge over any potential enemy, and we must remain willing to use it.

So, as we think about Independence Day, let's remember our troops abroad fighting terror and pray that other nations will have their own Independence Day, too. Maybe for Iraq it will be June 28, the day sovereignty was handed back to the Iraqi people this week. The opportunity is won. It's now up to the Iraqis to implement and administer their freedom. One thing is for sure: When freedom is truly wanted and won, freedom works. America has almost 230 years of astonishing growth to prove it, and we've demonstrated we're willing to fund and fabricate our arsenal to fight for it if need be. The misguided malcontents probably won't be wearing yellow ribbons or waving the flag this July 4th, but they'll surely be at the picnic. And between big bites of barbecue, they ought to ask themselves where they or anyone in the free world would be without America and our Independence Day. 7/1/04

Senator Lott welcomes any questions or comments about this column. Write to: U.S. Senator Trent Lott, 487 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (Attn: Press Office)

Previous Comments


He's getting funnier and funnier. I love the notion that if I don't like the war in Iraq that I'm a "misguided malcontent" who "won't be wearing a yellow ribbon or waving the flag" - because those activities signify what, exactly? Even better is the notion of the "wierd and wordy fringe" (I'm looking at you, donna). And I'm still giggling over Iraqi sovreignty that includes more than 100,000 troops that they have absolutely no control over. Let's get him a "make better" on Queer Eye, and then send him out on the stand up circuit!


Yeah, I took that personally, too, Kate -- although admittedly that's a bit self-focused. ;-) He does seem more out of touch in each column, eh? He doth protest too much: It's so clear from his pieces that he wants a docile and compliant Mississippi with folks who all think just alike -- "OUR values" -- and, if you don't think just like radical, corporate white conservatives, you probably don't vote anyway. Or, you can't stand it and leave and go to some radical place where you can hand out with other malcontents on the fringe. Unfortunately, the strategy of running off Mississippians who don't agree with the status quo has, indeed, worked too often in the state. However, things can, and do, change. My sense is that there are many Mississippiansóof all ages, races, income brackets and religionsówho are getting a little sick of this strategy and want their state back. And off the bottom of the barrell, a spot that only benefits a select few at the top.



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