George W. Bush painted his vision for the country and the world this week. His vision of a peaceful world. Not a calm between storms. But a peace that is long lasting. A peace that celebrates with others. A peace that helps others and joins in with others. A peace that is contagious and proud. A peace that is generous. And, a peace that is not easy or free of cost.
For real peace today means freedom. Peace means not just my freedom but your freedom as well. Freedom then, that is not selfish. Freedom that is alive and open and valued and given. This is the peace of freedom! Peace that starts with a Freedom that began with a single brave man in a vast ship yard. Peace that starts with a Freedom that began when a suffering man with a broken, poisoned body had the strength and courage to create a sea of orange clad freedom revelers. Peace that starts with the freedom of a displaced woman in a refugee camp who is the first to vote in her country’s first democratic elections. Peace that starts with a Freedom of a frightened and traumatized people braving bullets and suicide bombers to cast their vote for a hopeful future.
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This peace will not be easy or without a price. From 1941 through 1945 America lost 112,500 lives per year. Was it worth it? During reconstruction from May 8, 1945 until June 1946, over a thousand Americans and their dependents were killed by German terrorists. Was it worth it? From 1951 through 1953, 18,333 Americans each year lost their lives in Korea, a country that had never attacked us. Was it worth it? Since the Iraq War began there have been 1372 American casualties in 18 months. Is it worth it? Since June, Iraq is losing more men in their police and military than the coalition forces. Is it worth it for them? Will it be worth it?
The Peace and the Freedom will take time. And the peace and the freedom will strengthen and develop with time. Persecution is not easily forgotten. Torture is not easily forgotten. It takes time to find a lost voice. It takes time to find lost courage. There are the few that brave the front lines of freedom. It will take time for the others to join in. But you can bet that from the cafes in Paris to the jails of Myanmar people listened in this week. Americans listened in. And the world knows where America stands. That your freedom is our peace.