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A Look At Freedom

November 17, 2015
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

Freedom We all enjoy the comforts of what that word represents, usually without giving it a second thought.

We enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the list goes on and on. But not everyone enjoys the freedoms that we have in these United States.

Command Sergeant Major Rachel Fails offered a look at freedom when she addressed the crowd on Veterans Day at the VFW.

"We witnessed foreign governments that do not even begin to recognize women and minority religious populations and other citizens in segments of their own society as having worth, having value, being able to have a voice in their own societies, and in some cases, even having a voice of their own lives. Our service members and our veterans understand that sometimes they had to be the voice for the oppressed, the enslaved, and the persecuted of the world."

To make her point, she related experiences she had in the countries to which she had been deployed.

During Desert Storm in 1990, in Saudi Arabia: At that time, Saudi Arabia had a law that women were not allowed to drive. And that is a ban that still exists today women do not have the right to drive in Saudi Arabia.

"I simply cannot imagine my government impeding that freedom simply because of my gender. Just this year, women in Saudi Arabia are registering to vote, which is absolutely a great thing. In retrospect, this is finally happening more than four years after they were granted the right to vote by the King of Saudi Arabia. So not everybody has the same rights and freedoms that we do," she said.

"While we were deployed, we didn't have a lot of opportunity, for obvious reasons, to have much interaction with civilian population. Although, there were a few times that it was necessary. During one particular time of interaction, there were three members of our unit (two men and one woman) in a local town. We were later told it was religious police approached and handed one of the men a notice and then walked away.

"This notice (she had a copy) basically said that women are to refrain from wearing immodest dress, shall not show their make-up, or go in public places in tight or revealing dress. The notice was addressed to the guardian of a woman seen immodestly dressed.

"There are many other countries that do not have the freedoms that we do. Saudi Arabia is our ally and we have to respect their laws. But there is a vast difference in what we regard and believe to be basic human rights and the beliefs and laws of other countries in the world."

Rachel Fails stressed, "We have such basic, fundamental rights here in the United States. All the freedoms that we enjoy do not exist for all people as they do for us here in the United States. This, because of all of our veterans, here in the room, across the state of Iowa and across our nation, have served to earn them, and because of those who have given their lives to continue to defend them."

The point she drove home: "There are countries where there is no opportunity to improve yourself and improve your station in life. Because of the sacrifice of so many in service in our country, we have the ability to improve our lot in life, to express our opinions, to protest wrongs, to go to college and to sleep in safety and security."



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