Between Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and now Independence Day, I get national reminders to elevate my levels of gratitude for the who, what, where, when, and how I live in the glory of freedom.
This week, I also received “Legal Document: Jury Summons.” I am to report at 8:15 AM to the Jury Assembly Room at the Logan County Justice Center. If I find out the trial has not been canceled, I will be honored to show up and serve. Either way, the notice appeared in my mailbox between two patriotic holidays.
I admit that I’m critical of people who complain about jury duty. The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution and part of the Bill of Rights ensures my right and yours to a jury trial. It represents, for me, true freedom and clarifies what President Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address after the Civil War: “All men are created equal . . . government of the people, by the people, for the people ….”
I’ve only had the complex responsibility and honor of serving on two juries. The unique process adds to the seriousness of decisions made in the jury room. Because both legal sides choose jury members, it feels like democracy at its finest. I don’t want to imagine living in a country where my opinion is not necessary or where I can be determined guilty without the option of a jury trial of my peers. Even if I question whether I strongly defended my thoughts and conclusions in a jury room, I had the opportunity to participate—to experience personal and collective freedom.
I’ve heard many times, “Freedom is not free.” I agree; it is not. Although, I am a free recipient of United States freedom because, first of all, I was lucky to be born here. Second, my dad was a proud veteran who instilled in me and my sisters the responsibility of freedom. Freedom was certainly not free to him. He and millions of others, both then and now, left their families, endured boot camp or basic training, and fought for my freedom. I might not be brave or strong enough to strap on a gun and go to war, but I can certainly do my part—I can vote, pay taxes, run for office or support those who do, and add Jury Duty to my calendar and feel lucky to pay it back and pay it forward.
On this Fourth of July, I will hang my new flag in its new bracket, admire its beauty, take it down at dusk because it doesn’t have a designated light shining, and not allow it to touch the ground. It’s a symbol of my gift, and yours.
I wish you a grateful and safe Fourth of July.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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