Citizenship lesson: ‘Freedom is not free’

David Barkemeyer
Milam County Judge

I was asked last week to speak to the first grade classes at Ben Milam Elementary in Cameron on what it means to be a good citizen.

Tough question. But the answer is probably no different whether you are 6 or 68. It seems to me the answer is the same whether the question is what it means to be a good son or daughter, a good parent, a good student, a good teacher, or whatever kind of good person.

I started with the old story of the grasshopper who was out in the springtime chomping away on the green grass while the column of ants were busy packing away their supply of food for the winter.

He was just singing away, “the world owes me a living.” After a while the grass dried up, winter came, the grasshopper was starving while the ants were in the ant hill warn and happy with plenty of food for the winter.

Finally, one of the workers went out and found him, dragged him back into the ant hill, fed him, and saved his life.

From then on the grasshopper changed his tune to “I owe the world a living!”

It’s kind of like the inscription on the Korean War Memorial in DC which reads, “Freedom is not free.” I asked them if they knew who Darren Andrews was, the name out front on their school library.

I invited all of them to go by the Hall of Honor and see the plaques describing the great men and women citizens who graduated from the school they would be graduating from, and pick out one that they want to be like.

One of the main reasons for going to school must be to learn to work and make our own way in life. That makes you a good citizen. There are some 25 million citizens in Texas.

There are reported to be as many as 15 million illegal aliens in America. Wonder why? I believe it’s primarily because this is the greatest country the world has ever known and people from everywhere are trying to get here.

These first graders were born here and automatically became citizens. I said I hoped they would be good citizens because there were millions of people that would give their all to have what t hey already have and that’s to be a citizen of this great country.

There are 25,000 people who live in Milam County and maybe 1,500 will vote in the November election in a few weeks.

I told these kids that I knew that when they grew up I was confident that they would be good citizens and exercise their privilege to vote. I explained that each month my office sent out 85 jury service notices to citizens of Milam County and about 35 actually showed up for jury service.

Since they were all going to be good citizens, I knew that when they grew up, all of them would be there when called upon because our country’s constitution guaranteed us the right to a trial by jury.

Being right after lunch, I asked if they had all received a free meal and if they knew that meal had been provided by the good citizens of our country who pay taxes.

One of the purposes of going to school was to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to work so that some day they could have a job and be good citizens and provide a free meal to the first graders of the future.

Freedom is not free.

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2011-10-27 digital edition

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