Commentary: Let Us Have Freedom... From Fear
This month marked the 230th anniversary of the Battle of Kings Mountain. It was a battle entirely between Americans - those who sided with the British, and those who wanted independence. For Scott Hicks of Charlotte, the battle site stirred thoughts of freedom, courage and fear. The result is this essay. I walked with my adolescent sons along the King's Mountain Battle Trail. An otherworldly yellow light reflected the beginning of fall's changing canopy. Periodically we encountered a stone marker that attested to the sacrifice and heroism of rough men over 200 years past. "Over-mountain men" had answered the call to repel crack British troops that had marauded and pillaged all the way north from Charleston. The colonies teetered on the brink as these intrepid farmers; artisans, trappers and merchants took up their weapons and confronted the most powerful fighting force in the world. They crossed rugged and harsh terrain clothed in the simple cloth that they wore each day. They dreamed of a land with no autocrat to oppress, no forced religion, no arbitrary hand to steal the sweat of their brow or the blood in their veins. They fought brothers and cousins that had sided with the British. The only way they could determine who was the enemy in many cases was by the placement of a small scrap of white cloth in a hat or headband. As my sons and I stood and read each memorial I was mindful of the sacrifice that allowed me to be here this day. I was also mindful of all the men and women throughout the world who have given their lives in the struggle for freedom. People live all over the planet with little to mark their differences but a piece of cloth, whether it is a flag or a turban or a chador. Are we mindful that not only our forefathers but also those of lands throughout the world have given their lives so that no man can enslave another? Are we grateful, as we stand with our families, for those who no longer stand with theirs but whose lives have been sacrificed for the reality that belongs to all of us? Truth ... honor ... love of country and family are not traits that belong exclusively to Americans. They are human traits. They are human virtues. They will always rise above the tyranny that would enslave us. So I stood in the yellow light of an ancient forest with my sons and I was grateful. Here lie the dead. Here lie the courageous. It is not only here that they lie, though. They lie beneath the earth in all countries. They too stand with their sons and daughters with hope beating in their hearts. Let us reach out to them. Let us make peace. Let us become free from fear, the only thing that can truly enslave us.