Column – What does freedom mean to you?

Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2022

By Alice Kornegay Quinn

Guest columnist

The word freedom is defined as: To represent what you believe in, without interruption; to be yourself, and you let me be myself. Also, the right to speak and the power to act.

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Does one ever stop to think what this means? Or do you take this powerful word for granted or, with a grain of salt? Let me tell you, it is not a word to be taken lightly.

Freedom had to be earned for us and is not given to us freely.  Our forefathers fought and died to preserve and give us the freedom that we have today.  It did not come without a price. It was fought for with the blood and sweat of these loyal Americans, many who passed on.

Our fight for freedom began with our fight in the Revolutionary War in 1775 going through 1783. Our ancestors continued this fight with the War of 1812 and so on to the Indian American war of 1846 through 1848. They continued to fight with the Spanish American War of 1898.

The American people thought we were through fighting to maintain our independence and then World War I broke out in 1914 and America was at war again. This war continued through 1918 and then we had another lull. Then again in 1939 Germany began the fight and in 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, America went to war.  This long, weary battle lasted until 1945 with millions of lives lost.  America won again thanks to the dedicated young men and women who went off to fight for our country braving all kinds of hardships along the way.

Victory was not left alone, and the enemy forced us into battle again, this time with the Korean Conflict in 1950. This was a tough conflict under extreme conditions going through 1953; again many lives were lost. It seems America could not stay out of war. The world would not leave us at peace.

In 1961, the Vietnam conflict began, and once again America answered the call. This war, as I call it, was horrible and a war that we could not win. All of America knew it but, still it continued for 15 long years with more lives being lost and prisoners being taken. This war was a war like no other war. The terrain was unknown to our soldiers and the enemy was everywhere, sitting boogey traps like the world had never seen before.  This conflict continued until 1975 when the last American was pulled out. This was one of the longest wars in American history and one we will never forget.

Our hearts were saying, “Peace be still.” Our country still fights for independence so, please never take our freedom lightly. Our country has paid a huge price for our freedom so never forget that. If you are ever in doubt, just ask a veteran or a family member who was affected by this and what they had to sacrifice and what they endured. Freedom was not cheap to them. The price of freedom is never without a cost; too many lives are lost, homes are destroyed, children grow up with a father and once again, the home front had to pick up the pieces and begin to rebuild what was lost or destroyed.

Be proud to stand up and salute our flag and what it represents. You can honor our country by your actions, deeds and words and be kind to the ones who fought and died for our freedom. And let us hope that America will never go to war again. Let us live in peace with one another and be kind to our fellow man.

I am happy to say my ancestors have fought in every war beginning with the Revolutionary War and this tradition continued with my own family. We continue to fight for our country today. They know and respect our country and what it means to them. They were then, as well as now, willing to make the supreme sacrifice.

So, Americans stand up with heads held high and be proud to call yourself an American. Be proud of who you are and what your country means to you and appreciate and value the freedom you have today.


Alice Kornegay Quinn, a retired banker, has been a resident of Smithfield for about 37 years after relocating from Hampton. Her husband retired from the Air Force after serving over 22 years. For the past five years, she has been writing about her experience as a military wife, “the good and bad times.” “But it has been such a fantastic life.  It taught me to cherish life and make the best of whatever happens along the way,” she said. Her email address is