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When did freedom in America become something that divides us? How is it that today liberty is so misunderstood, so often ignored, taken for granted and increasingly used only as a hollow word to attack those with whom we have small, petty political differences? And when did deep wariness of government control become something to be mocked?

What the Raineses and their crew did in 1971 was clearly illegal. It was dangerous. And had they been caught, they rightly would have been punished.

But we should be grateful to them for risking everything and thankful that they got away with it. And we should always remember that it is only freedom that unites us here in America. And instead of mocking those who fight for it, we should whisper a prayer of thanks under our breath.

Charles Hurt can be reached at and on Twitter at @charleshurt.