But the frame was vintage unique and very beautiful.
It was well worth every penny of the $4 the buyer forked over at the tiny Allentown, Pennsylvania yard sale.
When he got this little prize home, the Philadelphia financial analyst began to dismantle the old picture. His goal was to reuse the frame with a high-quality portrait. Unfortunately, age had taken a toll on the wood and the attractive antique fell apart in his hands.
That’s when he noticed a carefully folded piece of paper tucked in the corner between the painting and the frame. He was stunned to discover it was a very old copy of the Declaration of Independence. He showed it to a friend who collected Civil War memorabilia and upon his urging had it appraised.
Turned out it was a rare Dunlap broadside, one of only 23 copies from the 500 originally printed.
It sold at a Sotheby auction for 2.3 million dollars.
Freedom is like that. It is only rightly valued by those who calculate its worth by assessing its cost.
Freedom is best understood and most highly prized by:
- The indentured child released from the sweat shop
- The sex slave set free from the prison of perversion
- The addict unleashed from the unforgiving bonds
- The inmate walking out through the prison door
And, as we celebrate today, a subjugated colony who etched on paper and then in blood the right to decide her future, protect her people and accomplish her dreams.
Unfortunately, much of modern 4th of July partying does not correctly value or adequately esteem the liberty it ostensibly commemorates.
Cheap substitutes for the core values and foundational beliefs that made this country great are now touted as the grounds for the party. It is akin to selling liberty at a junk sale.
But celebrating freedom is not the same as celebrating “cheapdom”.
- Accepting the privileges of a free society without participating in the practices that sustain that society.
- Enjoying the prosperity that rises from an egalitarian democracy without contributing to the partnership that makes it possible.
- Taking advantage of the blessings of liberty and the possibilities of freedom without embracing its worth or shouldering its cost.
- Exercising the openness of individual rights without paying the price of personal responsibility exercised for the common good.
To cheapen freedom into an excuse for barbecue and fireworks without reflecting on the responsibilities this freedom imposes, is to sell our priceless treasure as a yard sale trinket.
Freedom is a reality that should be celebrated with all our heart and protected with all our might.
We shouldn’t diminish our enthusiastic family and community revelry–we should embellish it.
But underscoring the festivity should be a deep sense of conviction, community and commitment.
- Conviction: the same freedom men and women have fought and died to win, we should will and work to preserve.
- Community: liberty is not individual unless it is corporate; it is not personal unless it is universal; it is not valuable to any unless it is accessible to all.
- Commitment: the value of liberty is heightened, not lessened, with the responsibility to live in that freedom within the restraint that makes us better.
I am grateful to those who have fought in a legacy of conflicts and died on a litany battlefields so I could love and laugh with family around my pool today. I am thankful for those who have stood their ground in contentious courtrooms and congressional Houses refusing to allow liberty to become less or freedom to become futile. Because of them we are…
The “self-evident” truths that leaders have stood for and “unalienable rights” warriors have fought for are the benchmarks of freedom we commemorate today. Because they refused to take liberty for granted or see the American dream become a nightmare, we are both free and compelled to celebrate this July 4th.
This is not the stuff of yard sale bargains. It is the result of the blood, sweat and tears of generations who knew the value of liberty and the meaning of freedom. Because of them we are…