Under the Liberty Tree

Sharing the spirit of the season
November 29, 2019 Updated: November 29, 2019


Sometimes, it seems, a holiday falls perfectly upon us in time. An astrologer might call this Thanksgiving a fated crossing of stars. While I may not take that evidence to the tables in Las Vegas, this Thanksgiving is given to us at a moment when we seem to need its holiday message and meaning the most.

Thanksgiving is a celebration of sharing, of overcoming enormous odds, and of producing a successful harvest through hard work together and a commitment to common values. More so, Thanksgiving renders recognition back to the Divine for our seeking, acknowledgment, and acceptance of the will of the Divine over all earthly challenges. Our part is to assiduously seek what is right, and to find and perform the mission given to us, in the milieu of freedom. While the holiday is unique to America, its message is a beacon of light to the world.

On Thanksgiving Day, we in the United States bask in a level of prosperity and personal freedom quite literally unprecedented in the broad flowing millennia of human history. Income, jobs, housing, security, upward mobility, and freedom have never been higher nor so broadly earned—ever, anywhere. Thanksgiving to God, our freedom and hard work is certainly well in order … and yet … there are a few bugs in the turkey stuffing.

The very recognition of the holiday and the fruits of freedom it represents is being corrupted by the ignorant and ignorance abetted by that ancient serpent of deception from the Garden, ever unsettling the lives and values of humanity.

In the midst of this unprecedented prosperity, we gather as a nation, a culture, and an idea of constitutional freedom at grave risk. Enemies of the leadership and the American idea bore holes like termites deep within the solid wood of our Thanksgiving table, gnawing and destabilizing, threatening government, law, justice, and the very stability of freedom’s table itself, upon which the feast is held.

The termites are merciless, mendacious, and unrelenting in the service of the snake and the totalitarian imperative. They seek to unsettle not only the Thanksgiving table but also the very culture of the Thanksgiving ideal.

When the godless, murderous Soviet machine of tyranny invaded Slovakia, they headquartered within the ancient city of Bratislava, where Maria Theresa of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was crowned. This tyranny machine was intent not just on subjecting a people, but also on eradicating a culture and inflicting communism upon its subjects.

To do so, much art, history, beauty, and identity was lost to the world. The gates of the medieval city were its signature to the world. The finest craftsmanship and art were dressed upon its walls and proudly shown to the world. Soviet tyrants took these magnificent expressions of history and culture, grinding a thousand years to rubble then spreading it upon streets and walkways, so the people would tread upon their own past. “Education” propaganda and media indoctrination reinforced and continued this nefarious atrocity.

Similar undermining of American culture is occurring, insidiously, within many schools, the arts, and propagandist media in the United States today, with less dramatics, subtly, for now. But then, our arts and “artists” used to be about art, not politics—Occupy Wall Street was drama; Antifa masks and antics, et cetera—with each debasing street stunt paid for by the hard left. Awards and celebrity status used to be about the art, not political obsession and almost childlike antics.

Yet there’s a bright shining star of what the American ideal means to the world, living out high aspirations of political freedom and personal dignity today.

For months, day after day, night after night, the world has witnessed magnificent ideals of liberty and almost impossibly heroic commitment on the streets of Hong Kong. These “freedom sparklers” yearning for liberty, unintimidated by raw power and threats to life, are unabashedly acting upon the American ideal; they are at once as boldly inspirational and uplifting as they are brave.

It isn’t coincidental that this same ideal of liberty inspires the stunningly heroic “sparklers” in the streets of Tehran and cities of Iran as well. Love of liberty has no nationality, race, or gender. All hearts yearn to breathe free.

Yet safety, security, and prosperity as the result of freedom may also weaken the character, being too far separated from the struggle. How many pajama boys and tattered-jean girls would eagerly join the ranks of the brave as freedom sparklers and insist on liberty, rather than take a free lunch break and a nap? Freedom tested is freedom elevated—or failed. The mission is ours. We must accept that mission to achieve it. And the mission will never end.

Another critical component to achieve and sustain liberty is an ethereal vision of the Divine and a duty to achieve the design of the Divine—a vision of God and an up-reaching for character and courage to live and serve our role in God’s elevated vision. I fear the flagging of faith in America will weaken our character and deserving ideal, as it yet inspired others. We shall see. The choice of free will belongs to each of us, as will the relentless, ruthless consequences of our choice, or failure to choose.

We shall not lose America because our system will fail. We will lose America, her beauty, liberty, prosperity, and hope held high to the world, because we have failed. Because we have put down our pack, forgotten our past, betrayed our God, and looked for a free lunch rather than a freedom sparkler. As the song goes, “Freedom is not free. … You must pay the price, you must sacrifice, for your liberty.”

And so as we settle around the Thanksgiving table, let us remember the author of our freedom. Let us give thanks for the opportunities and achievements flowing from our right choices and—sometimes—our courage. Let us recommit to do what we must to pass on what has been given to us and what so inspired others around the world. And let us also remember those termites as we help to fix the table! Now, please pass the pumpkin pecan pie. Amen.

Frederick A. Peterson III is a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and Vietnam/Operation Desert Storm veteran. He is the former dean of students at Seton Hall University Law School and holds a law degree from Fordham University.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.