“Freedom is my decision, not to do what I please, but to do what I ought.” This sentence, written by Harold C. Case, brings to my mind all the things America stands for. I wonder how many of us take all the freedoms we enjoy today for granted. Not many of us really understand the full meaning of the word “freedom.” We are the fortunate ones, fortunate to be born into a free land and live day after day without giving a thought to the possibility of losing it. Unfortunately, the day has come when we must give thought and concentrate hard on how to keep freedom in our country and help other nations to realize that the only satisfying way to live is to live in peace.

First, let me tell you how freedom had its birth in our country. No, it did not just happen, nor was a miracle performed; it was planted by God in the souls of the people by the hardships of our forefathers down through the centuries. I wonder how many of us would leave our mother country, with all its customs, to venture to an unexplored, unknown land? American’s brave pioneers did just that. They looked towards making this new land all the things their mother country lacked and might never have. With God to help them, they safely arrived and settled our great country. Because of the prayers and the good intention of our forefathers to make this land a free and peaceful one, we have been able to obtain all the freedoms we now have. This goal, however, was not achieved by merely wishing for it. Many a brave man and his family died fighting for freedom, fighting for what they believed was right, and we might just read America’s history and be grateful to them all.

From the time the first pioneer stepped upon this soil, our country became known as “The Land of Opportunity.” It has continued to be a land where everyone is equal and free to strive for the position he wants to hold. Every opportunity is given him with no thought as to his race or religion. For instance, in school there may be in a history class several students all learning American history; they are of different races, religions and nationalities. Their only thought while learning American history is to strive to abide by the freedoms given them and to do only what they ought in order to keep them.

Probably the hardest problem yet to face is the problem of keeping peace in the world and sharing our freedoms with our neighbors. When this problem is solved — and with the help of God it will be — we may continue to be “The Land of Opportunity,” “The Free Land” — America.

Marie Ardito wrote this in 1952 as a high school student in Providence, Rhode Island, where she lived after emigrating from Italy at age 6. She lives in Augusta, where she was the co-owner of Ardito’s Restaurant with her husband, Ralph Sr.