‘Fofa July’ gives us a chance to consider freedom

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The drums of war are still beating overseas. Alabama’s service men and women, like those of nearly each state in the Union, are deployed across the globe – not just in Iraq.

Still, the drums sound to me like the cadence of independence and freedom.

Perhaps it’s the time of year when we begin to focus on what it means to be an independent, sovereign nation; what freedom really means.

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The “Fofa July,” as it’s known in my family, gives us the opportunity to examine that freedom – along with the hot dogs, backyard burgers and – what surely will be for some – the singed eyebrows.

By my count, although historians may disagree, we’re 228 years old this year (I count from 1776 when the Declaration was signed). That’s a brief blip on the radar screen when you compare the United States to a nation such as Iraq, for example.

Sumer and Babylonia, both located in present-day Iraq, were probably the first peoples of the world to have a written language, some scholars say. That was around 3100 B.C. (and we’re not talking about “Before Clif” either). Around 2500 B.C., weights and measures were standardized in Babylon and by 2000 B.C. (that’s a shade more than four thousand years ago), a calendar of 360 days, 12 months with 30 days each was set in stone, so to speak. Ancient Iraq is also credited for dividing the circle into 360 degrees.

The “American Experiment” isn’t very far along, but already it’s been a raving success. The eagle flies proudly, after all we did give the world antibiotics, the free market and civil rights.

Now, in Iraq, the Joint Command is handing power back to the Iraqis. Self governance will once again appear in the ancient land. It could be fleeting, however, because the people there, I’m told, are not used to leading themselves. Rather, the nation has been led through either monarchist, religious or dictatorial directive for millennia.

Is it safe to assume that however brief democracy’s stay is in the land that surely once held the Garden of Eden,

democracy’s legacy will be a taste of freedom, of individual liberty?

That is, if the Iraqis don’t blow it at the start.

But that may not be a very fair assumption – that the Iraqis will blow it from the get-go.

Heck, we Americans are about to blow it and we’re still at our start, scarcely two centuries into sovereignty.

We’ve had 43 heads of state, countless judges and legislators and tens of thousands of civil service employees in our few short years.

And, we could be at the brink of blowing it ourselves.

Consider the fact that next week, after Congress’ “Fofa” break, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to take up the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Senate Democrats have vowed to defeat it. If they do, the doorway will be open for liberal federal judges to strike down the states’ marriage laws that firmly establish marriage as being between one man and one woman. It’s not just about homosexual unions. The issue is larger for both the moral and legal well being of our land.

From a legalistic standpoint, if the amendment (which would still have to be ratified by the states) fails in Congress, we’re looking at a federal government that is essentially saying to the states “thou shalt do as thou art told.”

Doing so would be as unconstitutional as us giving Queen Elizabeth a call, apologizing and agreeing to the Stamp Act. Marriage is a power that is reserved by the people and the states. When I got married, the preacher said something akin to “… by the power vested in me by God and the State of Mississippi. What God has joined let no man put asunder.” He wouldn’t have performed a wedding at all if he would have had to say, ” … by the power vested in me by the Federal Government.”

Yet, morally, we’re allowing man to put marriage asunder. Our national decay has reached the point where we actually are seriously considering making a law that defines marriage.

And we’re worried about whether or not the Iraqis are going to blow it? Let them alone a while and see what happens. The Ottomans couldn’t solve all their problems, and they tried for 400 years. We need to concentrate on cleaning our own laundry for a while.

I’m not opposed to this war on terrorism. I lost friends on September 11 – both in New York and in Washington.

I wasn’t opposed to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and still believe President Bush had the most moxie of any American president in recent memory.

It’s just that it’s time to do a little tent cleaning of our own.