Citizen - has my view changed?

As we stood at Surrender Field in Yorktown, we were asked to re-evaluate, or look at again, how we felt about being a citizen.  Did our view change or did it stay the same?  Here is what I wrote:

Understanding freedom and being a citizen touches me in a new way.  I understand more about what my relative, Richard Stockton, felt as he was locked in a British gaol (for jail), certain in his convictions. He knew he could lose everything he owned and held dear but realized even more deeply that things are only things. The British might lock him away.  They might take all his belongings away. They could never lock away or erase what was in his heart and mind. Locking away a person in prison only furthers and deepens his/her resolve to be free, to think freely, and to live as all men were meant to be.  I was reminded of how similar Nelson Mandela's plight was.  He was also locked away for believing men should all be free and have a say in their government. No one could take those thoughts away.  Even after being locked away for over 30 years, he never gave up those thoughts.  He never gave up his convictions, or thoughts of what was right.

My heart swells with a different kind of pride now. Previously, I was just proud to be related to a man who signed the Declaration of Independence, but once I realized what that struggle entailed, I had no concept of the sacrifices men like him made.Without their sacrifices, the children at my school and schools across the country would not be welcomed. They would not have the opportunities we have. Their parents would not give up everything they had in their own countries to come here and in return become citizens of the United States of America.  When we think of those men signing their names on that document for the King to see, we have to remember, they risked their own safety and the safety of their families to be able to think freely, live freely, and open the doors of the US for all races and religions.

As relatives of those citizens, we should honor their memory and continue what they started - fighting for freedom for all men, women, and children in the world.

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