The Spirit of Freedom


I am the spirit of freedom—unembodied, but very real. We are not strangers, you and I. Yet sometimes we seem almost foreign to each other. For me, the saddest experience of all is to hear any of you say that I am dead. I am alive. Like you, I can get run down, weary, but never old, even though in some places I am weak, feeble, almost as death.

I’ve been in a lot of dangerous places: Lexington and Agincourt. I’ve walked with a lot of scared men at Thermopylae, at St. Petersburg, at Waterloo, at the Suez, in places like Budapest and Prague. Like me, fear wears all kinds of uniforms. I owe allegiance to no single nation. Nobody owns me. If they did, I’d cease to exist.

I’ve seen both heroism and fear. Often. I saw plenty of both displayed against the Philistines, in the Roman catacombs, on one memorable occasion along the walls of Zarahemla, and in the country around a hill called Cumorah. I was there with them all.

Sometimes, I’ve learned, courage doesn’t come with a spear or a rifle. I helped steady the hand of King John when he signed the Magna Carta—not quite willingly. Martin Luther was not alone when he tacked those 95 theses on that chapel door at Wittenberg. I helped smelt out 16 stones alongside a man known to history only as the Brother of Jared. I was there when the Mormons fled across the ice at Nauvoo and worked their way west to the Rockies. When the peace treaties are signed, no matter how hesitantly, I’m there, for sometimes it takes as much courage to lift a pen as a sword.

All of you need me—not because in America it’s the month of July, but because none of you, in any country, in any month, can properly fulfill your political or spiritual destiny without me. My credentials? Free agency was my father, Peace my mother. I am your friend and brother. I am the Spirit of Freedom.

[photo] Photography by Royce Bair

R. Paul Cracroft, director of lectures and concerts at the University of Utah, serves as first counselor in the Parleys Fourth Ward bishopric, Salt Lake Parleys Stake.