The Meaning of Freedom

We are truly blessed to live in the United States and enjoy the American freedoms that come with it. While we are focused now on our freedom as we celebrate Independence Day, it’s still all too easy to take these human rights and civil liberties for granted. 

What does freedom mean?

In the United States, we enjoy Freedom of Choice, and the options from which we have to choose are often positive. From seemingly inconsequential matters such as “what color will I paint my kitchen?” to more serious questions such as “what school should I choose for my child,” or “what do I want to be when I grow up (I’m still working on that one),” America grants us the freedom to choose our futures.

The United States Constitution guarantees us rights including Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of the Press, among others. These Constitutional rights can be found in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Bill of Rights is the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution and guarantees the rights as our Founding Fathers prioritized as being important to freedom and the future of the country.

If you’re born in the United States, you may not give our Constitutional rights much thought. These freedoms are inherent, part of the fabric that makes America a sought-after place to live and raise families. It's also the reason we open our arms to refugees and new Americans, and are able to guarantee them a stable future for themselves and their children.

In the work that we do with regard to resettling refugees, I am constantly reminded of the stark contrast between the freedoms we enjoy and the reality of many around the globe.

I am reminded of the Burmese refugee mother who had to make a terrible choice: enlist her child in a dictator’s army or face jail or corporal punishment. Rather than face these grim options, she chose to take a harrowing journey across the rolling sea to escape to a refugee camp. 

Is that freedom?

I think of the Syrian doctor who built homes for his family only to have them destroyed by bombs dropped by the leaders of his own nation, killing citizens and destroying everything Syrian families held dear, including hope.

That is not freedom.  

I’ve met Congolese women who have endured rape and torture before fleeing their homes only to spend decades in a refugee camp. That is not freedom! It is oppression and injustice at its height.

Since our inception, the United States of America has stood as a beacon of hope and welcome, and freedom above all, for people of all races, religions, and socioeconomic status.

Samaritas has opened our doors to offer opportunity, possibility and a brighter future of choices and progress and, as communities, we have welcomed those most vulnerable from around the world.

Samaritas' New Americans program is privileged to offer hope, giving refugees their first taste of true freedom. Seeing their courage to embrace it and start their lives anew is a testament to their resilience, character, and success. That is a shining example of what freedom means to me. 

As we celebrate our independence, let us all remember this true meaning of American freedom.

Chris Cavanaugh is Director, New American Services, for Samaritas in West Michigan.

Theme picker

Winter 2022

our hands cover winter 2022

Spring 2023

our hands cover spring 2023

Winter 2023

spring 2022 cover


annual 2022


impact report 2020


impact report 2021

ripples DEC 2023


Please Contact:
Joe DiBenedetto
Lambert & Co.
(516) 637-0597

Matt Friedman
Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications
(248) 762-1430

Photo Consent For Persons Served

Photo Consent Form