Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

This is what it means to be free July 5, 2011

FOR THE PAST SEVERAL days, I’ve kept my eyes peeled for the perfect July Fourth image.

I thought that photo might come from my extended family’s annual July 4th weekend gathering or from the Roberds Lake Independence Day boat parade. Or perhaps I’d just see a patriotic display worthy of showcasing. Maybe a field of flags.

However, the photo I selected to best portray our nation’s birthday falls into none of these categories.

I chose this image, taken along Seventh Street in Faribault late Monday afternoon.

Let me explain.

This homeowner disagrees with a recent decision by the Faribault City Council to forgive a $72,000 water bill assessed to FWF Fund One, current owners of the Faribault Woolen Mills property. The woolen mill closed some time ago, leaving an original $120,000 unpaid water bill, which has since been paid down $48,000. Now new investors are working on purchasing the property and restarting the mill, thus prompting the request to forgive the remaining portion of the unpaid water bill. Read more about the issue by clicking onto this recent Faribault Daily News article.

Even though I happen to agree with the homeowner, I didn’t choose this as my favorite Independence Day photo for that reason.

This grassroots expression of an opinion represents to me the cornerstone of our nation: freedom.

As citizens of the United States, we are free to speak—to voice our ideas and opinions and concerns.

We needn’t be eloquent speakers or writers or members of city councils to express ourselves.

A simple handwritten sign posted on a tree along a busy street epitomizes freedom at its most basic, individual, level.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

2 Responses to “This is what it means to be free”

  1. Bernie Says:

    What a unique picture you chose. Its so true, because of our freedom, that person can post a sign like that. I have not read the article you linked to. Will this mill bring jobs to town?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, the reopening of the mill will bring jobs to Faribault that were lost when it closed.

      And, yes, we are fortunate to live in a nation where we can freely express ourselves.


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