We must earn freedom anew


“Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

– Dylan Thomas

I would’ve had time to write about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in last week’s Farm and Dairy. We were still composing the final section, the front section, on the computer when we heard the news. I could have written something before the presses rolled. I had the time.

But I had no words.

And I still don’t.

Words – rhetoric – seem shallow and inconsequential. Words don’t erase the carnage and my words can’t ease the pain we’re all feeling, cocooned in our own safety and health.

Words cannot predict what we will face in coming months. Words cannot gird us with invincibility nor arm us with might. Words can feed a soul, but cannot right this wrong.

As President Bush states, “All our hearts have been seared by the sudden and senseless taking of innocent lives.”

City under siege. Bill Liermann from Wilmington, Ohio, was with a delegation from the Ohio Farmers Union on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning. Already aware of the New York tragedies, the group had just left Rep. Bob Ney’s office and was visiting with Rep. Mike Pence from Indiana when his aide came out of a back office with tears streaming down her face and said third plane had just crashed into the Pentagon.

“Then I knew we had problems,” Liermann says.

The Ohio group joined the throngs of Capitol Hill visitors and staffers leaving the buildings. Everyone was orderly, said the Ohioan, but it was mass pandemonium. The Ohioans walked the eight or 10 blocks back to the Capitol Hill Holiday Inn where they were staying.

“We knew things were very, very serious,” Liermann said. “It looked like it was a city under siege.

“Everything stood still. The whole city stood still.”

The Ohio group leaders immediately began plotting how to get back to Ohio. Two delegation members headed west on Amtrak at 2 a.m. Wednesday; the rest waited for OFU communication director Andrew Franks to arrive from Columbus in a rented van. The Ohio farm group arrived home Wednesday night.

Eternal vigilance. In 1995, Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister of Great Britain, commented that, “The price of freedom is still, and always will be, eternal vigilance.

“We, who are living in the West today are fortunate. Freedom has been bequeathed to us. We have not had to carve it out of nothing; we have not had to pay for it with our lives. Others before us have done so.

“But it would be a grave mistake to think that freedom requires nothing of us. Each of us has to earn freedom anew in order to possess it.”

I could have written something before the presses rolled last week. I had the time.

But I had no words.

And I still don’t.


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