Tag: freedom

Freedom and the French-American Friendship

My husband and I lived in France for a year. I developed some deep friendships with some French people in the church where we were serving and learned a great deal of our joint history. 

The Statue of Liberty

A joint project between France and America, the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty was built by Americans and the statue itself, designed and built by French artist Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, was completed in France, disassembled and shipped to the United States. An icon of freedom, the official name of the Statue is the “Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World.” The statue was a gift from the people of France and symbolizes the friendship between the two countries.

Normandy

The Allied assault on D-Day (June 6,1944) aimed to liberate France and drive into Nazi Germany. Over 9,387 Americans are buried in the American cemetery in Normandy with an additional 1557 names inscribed on the Walls of the Missing. France has granted a special perpetual concession to the land, free of any charge or tax. The American Battle Monuments Commission maintains the cemetery. Two Italian granite figures at the western end of the central mall represent the United States and France.

The last battle in the Campaign for Normandy was the Liberation of Paris. It started with an uprising by French Resistance against the German Paris garrison. On August 24, French Forces of the Interior received backup from the Free French Army of Liberation and the United States 4th Infantry Division. On August 29, a joint Franco-American victory military parade traveled through the streets of Paris.

Casablanca 

The cooperation of French and Americans during the war inspired one of the best-known movies of all time. Casablanca was set in unoccupied French Morocco during WW II. The movie bore the name of the stopping off point on the way to Lisbon and then to America as people attempted to escape Nazi occupied Europe.

The main characters in the story are Rick Blaine, lIsa Lund and Victor Laszlo. Prior to the German occupation of Paris, Rick and lIsa fell in love.  On the day the Germans marched into Paris, lIsa was to meet Rick at the train station but failed to show up. She had received word that her husband Victor Laszlo, a Czech resistance leader, had not died in the Nazi concentration camp but was alive and needed her.

Rick goes to Casablanca and sets up Rick’s Café Américain. Rick and Ilsa meet again as lIsa and Victor arrive in Casablanca, attempting to find passage to America. German Major Strasser comes to Casablanca to prevent Laszlo from leaving. While in Rick’s cafe, he leads his soldiers to sing the German national anthem. Victor Laszlo then orders Rick’s band to play La Marseillaise, the national anthem of France. When the bandleader looks to Rick, he nods his head in approval.

Rick helps Victor and lIsa escape to America by providing them with letters of transit to Lisbon. When Major Strasser tries to stop them, Rick shoots him. The movie ends with Rick and Captain Renault (the local police chief) making plans to join the Free French at Brazzaville, ending with the memorable line by Rick, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Friends and Brothers, Free Indeed

Our national mottos are Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, and In God We Trust. The origins of the French motto are not Christian, but the principles are. The God in whom we trust has provided a way for us to have liberty, equality and brotherhood. Through Christ, true freedom is possible. Through Christ, we experience a brotherhood that lasts forever.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. . .Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:32, 36).

The Price of Freedom is Sacrificial Love

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. . . What is important is faith expressing itself in love. . . For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:1, 6, 13-14 NLT).

The 4th of July commemorates the birth of America.  The labor pains of that birth are well known in history.  Liberty came at a deep cost of the lives of those who fought for it. Freedom is not free. Someone has to be willing to pay the price to obtain it. William Wallace is known for his battle cry “Freedom!” in leading Scots to fight for their families and lands. Patrick Henry is remembered for his speech to America’s Continental Congress, “Give me liberty or give me death!” The heroes of the Alamo knew that they were sacrificing their lives for the hope of freedom. Many others through the ages have recognized that freedom might call for the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.

Keeping America free has also been very costly. What still compels young men and women to continue to do whatever is necessary to maintain America’s freedom? Love does.  America’s military is peopled by volunteers. Without love of country, family and for many, love of God, there would be no defense forces to protect my home country.  I am indebted to my father, my husband’s father, my sons, neighbors and many friends who have served and are serving in any branch of the military that keeps watch over my privilege to live in “the land of the free.”  I have never volunteered to serve myself, so with a grateful heart, I thank each one for the blessing they have bought for me.

Our spiritual freedom was purchased for us by Jesus. After sin entered the world, a war began. Since then, man has been in a continual battle against Satan and his desire to keep us in bondage to sin. Jesus voluntarily paid the price for man to be reconciled to God through His own death on the cross. God’s great love for us and His desire for us to be free cost Him dearly.

The battle has been won.  Our freedom has been purchased for eternity, but many times we do not live like it. Although certain that we are saved by grace, we often try to live by works.  The result of that is a return to the Satan’s bondage. Paul told the churches in Galatia that the remedy for that was to serve one another, remembering that the law is summed up in love your neighbor as yourself.

Christians owe an eternal debt to Christ for our spiritual freedom.  Americans owe a debt to our service personnel for our freedom.  We cannot pay off that debt.  It is not possible to go to Heaven through our own works, nor is it possible to bring back those who have sacrificed themselves for our country’s freedom. The proper response to both is love.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31 NKJV).

© Stephanie B. Blake

July 2010

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