"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I can get in the car, drive several hours to Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico. Visit people. Camp out. 
No check points, no passports, no guarded borders.
I can buy a newspaper anywhere, go to bookstores, subscribe to magazines, turn on the TV to any channel, carry radios, my cell phone, access the Internet-- everywhere.
No questions, special forms, no suspicion.
I can stop at any church, walk in, and worship. I can gripe and campaign against or for about the governor, the courts, the legislature, the mayor, the school board, the police, the President, the Congress, the Supreme Court. No danger. No fear.
I can think what I want, and write it down. Publish it on paper or online. No worry.
So what?
People in North Korea can't can’t. Neither can people in Iraq. Nor people in China, Vietnam, Libya, Iran, other places.
I once toured Philadelphia, went to the old statehouse and Independence Hall. A really tiny room, with high ceilings and tall windows. Hot in the summer time. 
In this room, a group of men signed their names to a document. It could have been their death warrant. Treason usually is.
They tore down the English royal coat of arms. Members of the militia--armed for good reason--took the document outside and read it to the crowd.
Instead, it was a warrant for my freedom.
July 4, 1776.
“When in the course of human events....”
Independence Day.
Think about that as you read these words, as you pick up a book, go to church, turn on the TV, go visit relatives and friends, gripe about the government, or tot he lake, a fireworks show, a family dinner--all without fear.
Free, that’s what.
Free. It started with guts and words and conviction and commitment. It becomes real with blood and guts and more words.


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