Fourth of July a time to celebrate freedom
The 4th of July is rapidly approaching—a time of picnics, parades, and fireworks. But it is also a time to reflect on the freedom we enjoy in this country.
I was born and raised in Nebraska and have always enjoyed the many freedoms that all citizens of the United States are guaranteed by the Constitution. Not everyone is so lucky, and this was brought home to me when I recently read “Refugee Child: My Memories of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution” by Bobbie Kalman.
Kalman is the author of several hundred non-fiction children’s books on geography, social studies, and science. She has worked as a teacher, and she and her husband Peter Crabtree started the Crabtree Publishing Company which publishes Kalman’s many books.
“Refugee Child” is Kalman’s memoir and it looks at the Hungarian Revolution through the eyes of a child. It also includes historical information about the 1848 and 1956 Hungarian Revolutions and describes what her life was like under Communist rule.
Kalman says, “I never knew about human rights or that I lived without most of them. I never knew that it was my right to live without fear or discrimination or force. I never knew about having the right to get an education of my choice or about the right to leave my country. I never knew about the right to speak my mind or the right to be proud of my culture. I didn’t know I had the right to choose what I thought was right for me. I never knew I had the right to be free.”
Kalman was nine years old when the Revolution began on October 26, 1956. People in her home town held a peaceful protest against the Communist government but the Hungarian secret police met the protestors with violence. More than 100 people were killed and over 200 were wounded. Her family was in panic as they tried to locate all of their family members.
After the massacre the Soviet army left Hungary and the people hoped that this meant freedom for their country. Her home town, located near the Austrian border, was soon filled with Western journalists. However, less than a week later the Soviet tanks returned and the Revolution was crushed. The Kalman family decided to leave Hungary so that they could live in freedom.
Kalman states, “Which took more courage—to stay or to leave? Each choice was as hard as the other. To stay meant probably imprisonment for my father and a hard life for our family. To leave was just as difficult. It meant leaving behind everything we owned. It meant leaving behind the people we loved. It meant going forward with nothing. To stay or to leave? Both required incredible courage!”
Reading this book made me very grateful for my life in the United States and I hope that I never take my freedom for granted!