ICAS Summer Symposium

No. 2002-0810-CWB

The Great Hope of Freedom Is Not Free

Charles W. Bowser

Summer 2002 ICAS Symposium

August 10, 2002 11:00 - 6:00 PM
Calvary Vision Community Center, 550 Township Line Road, Blue Bell, PA 19422

Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.

965 Clover Court, Blue Bell, PA 19422

Tel : (610) 277-9989; (610) 277-0149
Fax: (610) 277-3289
Email: icas@icasinc.org

Biographic Sketch & Links: Charles W. Bowser

The Great Hope of Freedom Is Not Free

Charles W. Bowser

About a year ago I reached my 70th birthday. I thought it was an auspicious occasion because the only other man in my family who lived that long was my Great Grandfather who lived to reach age 98. When my wife and children asked me how I wanted to celebrate my birthday I asked them to join me for a trip to with my oldest Granddaughter to Washington D.C.

They knew of the importance to me of my work in the struggle for civil rights and of my meetings and work in Washington. We decided to use the trip to teach my Granddaughter about my participation in the struggle for the realization of the Great Hope of Freedom. The last historic shrine we visited was the most important to me. It was the Korean War Memorial. The inscription carved on the polished granite memorial was, "FREEDOM IS NOT FREE."

I was very proud because the War Memorial reminded me that I helped to pay a part of the price for freedom on the war torn hills and valleys of Korea as well as in the halls of congress and in the courts. Today I come to tell you that the message on the War Memorial is true. Freedom is not free. No one will give it to you. Indeed there are still demons of injustice in this country, and around the world, who will attempt to prevent you from realizing the Great Hope of Freedom and you must be committed to contributing your share of the price of freedom.

The history of America proves that no American is exempt from contributing to the protection of the great hope of freedom. The American presidential campaign of 1960 projected the youthful and dynamic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to American voters and interested people around the world. On October 23. 1960, during a speech to voters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kennedy said:
"I believe this country must prepare itself for another great movement forward, that we must work to strengthen our country not only because of our devotion to it but also because it represents, 'The Great Hope Of Freedom.'"
A few weeks later during a speech in Providence Rhode Island, on November 7, 1960 Kennedy quoted from a speech by former President Abraham Lincoln who, 100 years earlier, during the 1860 Presidential campaign said:
"I know there is a God, and I know he hates injustice. I see the storm coming and I know his hand is in it. But if he has a place and a part for me I believe that I am ready."
Then Kennedy said;
"Now, one hundred years later, when the issue is still freedom or slavery we know He hates injustice and we see the storm coming. But if He has a place and a part for us I believe that we are ready."
Presidents Kennedy and Lincoln knew that freedom is not free and they paid their part of the price of freedom when assassins' bullets killed them. They accepted the responsibility that should motivate every American to accept and continue to support the great hope of freedom by a personal realization that freedom is not free.

Freedom is not free because it evolves from a process that began when people perceived that they were entitled to individual rights and that they had a personal obligation to protect and to enhance those rights.

Was not freedom the issue when the Old Testament prophet Moses accepted the divine command to tell the Pharaoh of Egypt to "Let my people go?" Freedom was the issue when the German hordes defeated the imperial armies of the Roman Empire. Freedom was the issue when an English King was forced to sign the Magna Carter. Freedom was the issue when the rebellious Protestant Minister, Martin Luther, nailed his manifesto to the door of the Roman Catholic Church. Freedom was the issue when the American Colonies declared their independence of Great Britain.

Freedom was the issue that inspired the American Civil War. Freedom was the issue that guided Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr. to the demonstration in Memphis, Tennessee where he was assassinated.

It does not end, this great hope of freedom. It is a process that cannot end so long as people everywhere, rich and poor, Asian, Black and white, Jew and Gentile, share the common ideals, common ground and common dreams of our communities where we work together to protect and defend the freedom process.

It is my experience that the strength of our individual commitments to the realization of the great hope of freedom results from the quality of our participation in efforts to improve our communities. We can only improve our communities when good neighbors work together to establish good neighborhoods.

My generation of African Americans was guided by the belief that we had to be united to oppose racial injustice. Racial injustice was our enemy and we knew that the great hope of freedom could only begin with the end of injustice. Our unity began in our churches, in our homes, in our schools and in our dreams. We believed that insuring the great hope of freedom was our personal responsibility.

We believed that the justice inherent in our demands would be quickly recognized and respected but time after time we learned that we were wrong. Our hopes for freedom were often rejected but we never gave up. Each time we were knocked down by injustice we jumped up to renew the struggle.

Of course there has been some progress in several areas. But stories in newspapers this week verify that progress toward equal opportunity is not the same as the right to equal opportunity. Progress is movement over time. Rights are vested at birth and do not require extra effort to be realized. If you become engaged in this struggle please do not settle for progress toward the rights that are bestowed upon other people at birth.

Always remember that the praise of progress toward the rights to which you are entitled at birth, or at the instant of citizenship, is an admission that you are not entitled to equal rights.

Also remember that so long as the great hope of freedom is our motivation, so long as we are willing to pay the price, because freedom is not free, then our communities will be the homes of the brave and the land of the free. So long as we are willing to teach our children, and they are willing to teach their children that they must also pay part of the price to preserve the great hope of freedom, then we can expect the day to come when in every community we will sing:

O beautiful for spacious skies
for asphalt streets of joy,
for decent homes and decent schools
for every girl and boy.

O beautiful for spacious skies
for jobs and health and hope
for an end to crime an end to lies
and an end to devil dope.

O beautiful for spacious skies
for justice fair and true,
for an equal chance for all who try
to make their dreams come true.

America. America. God shed His grace on thee,
and crown thy good with brotherhood
from sea to shining sea.

ICAS Fellow
ICAS Speakers
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Summer 2002