The History of Freedom Fighters
The memory of America’s freedom fighters is honored everywhere in the country. We walk the streets named after them, we study their biographies in schools and colleges and watch documentaries about them. We know why what they did is so important nowadays, but do we really understand the meaning of the fight for freedom? Can we become freedom fighters by ourselves, or everything that is possible was already achieved by these great people of the past?
The meaning of the words “freedom fighter” given in the dictionaries is: a person who takes part in the resistance movement against an oppressive political or social establishment. But does this dry definition describes the lives and deeds of the famous freedom fighters? We don’t think so. Not only they “took part”, they made a huge difference that changed the culture of their country or even the world. Let’s look at the history of freedom fighters whose names you have most certainly heard and who are, possibly, still unknown to you, and see what really unites them.
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The name of Thomas Jefferson is one of the most prominent amongst America’s freedom fighters. He did an incredible amount of things for his country, but he himself chose only some to be written on his obelisk and remembered forever. It is the “Author of the Declaration of American Independence”, “Of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom” and “Father of the University of Virginia”.
This says a lot about his personality and what this famous freedom fighter considered the most important achievements in his life. Even in his very first political work named “Summary View of the Rights of British America” he bravely wrote to the British king George III, reminding him that he “is no more than the chief officer of the people, appointed by the laws, and circumscribed with definite powers, to assist in working the great machine of government”.
From that work Thomas Jefferson started his fight for the freedom of America. We all know this story, but what we shall really understand here, that the first and the most prominent trait of the freedom fighter is courage to be the first to stand against all the odds, against the overwhelming force, not even knowing if someone support you. Thomas Jefferson chose his three great achievements as a representation of his successful fight for political, religious and educational freedom of America.
Another of America’s freedom fighters who shares the same bravery to stand for what is right is Martin Luther King Jr. He impacted the religious and racial freedom in the country and in the world on impossible scale. His speech “I have a dream” became one of the most well-known in the world history, it is often copied by the modern politicians, but no one can receive the same effect that Luther’s one, said with sincerity, passion and hope.
As a black person at that times he was hated by the racists for not staying silent, but fighting for the colorblind American society that will give the equal opportunities to everyone, disregarding of the colour of their skin. But there is something else in personality of Martin Luther King Jr. except his courage. He was one of the best orators of his time. He was able to lead the enormous crowd, to inspire hope and desire to act into the audience.
Still, he, as a Baptist minister, kept his protest non-violent. You can imagine what a willpower shall a person have to keep the hundreds of offended and hurt people in bay while demanding their rights. Studying his biography we understand the meaning and importance of the second trait of all the famous freedom fighters: strong leading skills and ability to control the crowd of supporters.
When we think about freedom fighters we mostly imagine a male image. But there are prominent female freedom fighters, who did no less outstanding work for their countries. One of the most well-known is, of course, Indira Gandhi. As her memoirs state, she was determined to change something from the very early childhood: she trained her orator skill from the age of three. Indira once said that she was deeply and negatively impressed with the fates of Indian women and decided for herself to have another life. She said about her mother, Kamala Nehru: “I saw her being hurt and I was determined not to be hurt.”
In 1930s Indira was the first to organise the children and teenagers into resistance group “Vanar Sena” that supported the freedom fighters in every possible non-military way. In 1941 Indira Gandhi entered the Indian politics. Being a daughter of Mr. Nehru helped a lot, but still in a very patriarchal society of India being a female politician was something almost scandalous. Indira faced every kind of resistance, firstly for being a woman, then for providing the unpopular reform that should later help her country develop. Indira Gandhi, as a Prime Minister of India, did a miracle for her country, uniting its nation and defending the secular Constitution.
She could do several times more if not feeling the constant pressure for being a woman, a politician, a daughter of Nehru, a reformer… She had the courage, she had the skill to make great speeches, but what defines Mrs. Gandhi is her sheer determination. The fight for freedom is often a process that takes more than one lifetime. It demands to be not only brave and bright, but persistent and determined. This is the third trait that unites all the freedom fighters all over the world.
Despite his dubious personality and deeds, no one can deny that Ernesto “Che” Guevara was one of the most famous freedom fighters in modern history. He started his way as a future doctor, but during his education and medical practice young Ernesto was shocked with the misery and poverty of the most of the people he treated. He abandoned the field of medicine – the one that could make him quite rich and respected in Cuba – and dedicated himself to the fight for freedom.
He gathered the oppressed around him due to sheer charisma and bravery and, while he finally united with Fidel Castro, they planned the Cuban Revolution and overthrow the “Batista Government”. They managed to succeed and Che Guevara was appointed to the position of minister of industry. He, surely, had all the aforementioned traits of freedom fighters, but the world knows him for yet another one – devotion and self-sacrifice.
Che Guevara was married, he was the second most influential man in Cuba, he could have everything a person can desire – but he still communicated with common workers. In the memoirs of witnesses we can read the shocked words about Ernesto coming to work with them even when the cameras weren’t around. Che Guevara devoted his life to the ideas of revolution, right or wrong. Willing to sacrifice themselves is another essential trait of a freedom fighter. No one knows if the fight will be successful, so starting the fight one should be ready to face defeat with dignity and show the others the path to follow, as did Che Guevara.
Finishing our (absolutely incomplete) list of famous freedom fighters let’s remember Charles de Gaulle, the military man who became the President of France and earned his place in the history of freedom fighters. Charles de Gaulle was an excellent military officer who survive the First and the Second World Wars, was wounded several times, but continued fighting and – what is important – learning.
As a commander of tank regime de Gaulle had to constantly deal with tactical and strategic problems solving them in the fastest and the most effective way during the ever-changing battle conditions. His accomplishments earned him the position of the Under Secretary for War in French Government.
When France surrendered to Germany in 1940, de Gaulle didn’t join the surrender. He fled to England (this step of his, though lots of people thought of it as of cowardice, is very important for his defining trait as freedom fighter). In England he founded a Free French Movement, gained the support of the Prime Minister of England and started his steady work to get the freedom for his Motherland back. He shared his ideas, but also he made plans, gathered military force and, what is most important, he also planned what to do with France after the freedom is returned.
As you might already guess, the trait of freedom fighter represented by Charles de Gaulle is strategic planning. The main flaw of all the brave, eloquent, determined and selfless people who want to fight for freedom is the lack of strategy. Their idealism make them see people as equally idealistic and eager to build a better society.
But it is important to understand that the fight for freedom also puts a great responsibility for that freedom on the shoulders of the fighter. Without strategic planning and without long-term plans, the fight will lead only to disruption of the system existing at the moment, leaving behind only chaos, but not something that is better.