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A few months ago, I heard this incredible story on a radio talk show that I listen to every night. Through research on the Internet, I found that it is, in fact, a true story and was taken from a speech given by former Arkansas governor and potential presidential candidate Mike Huckabee at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 2, 2007.
With the celebration of the Fourth of July just around the corner, I thought this story would be timely.
Back in September 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom.
As, the kids came into first period, they walked in, but there were no desks. They looked around and said, “Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?” And she said, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn them.”
They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”
“No,” she said.
“Maybe it’s our behavior.” they said.
“No," she said, "it’s not even your behavior.”
And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. In the second period, it was the same thing. And the third period. By early afternoon, television news crews had gathered in Cothren’s class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom.
During the last period of the day, Cothren gathered her class. They were, at this time, sitting on the floor around the sides of the room.
“Throughout the day, no one has really understood how you earn the desks that ordinarily sit in this classroom,” she said. “Now I’m going to tell you.”
Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it. As she did, 27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into the classroom, each one carrying a school desk. They placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. By the time they had finished placing those desks, those kids – for the first time in their lives, perhaps – understood how they earned those desks.
Cothren said, “You don’t have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it’s up to you to sit here responsibly, to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk. Don’t ever forget it.”
The Veterans of Foreign Wars chose Cothren as the "Teacher of the Year" in Arkansas for 2005-2006.
I applaud this teacher for the incredible lesson she taught her students. Freedom is not earned; it is given.
If you see or know somebody that has sacrificed their life, time and resources to ensure that freedom is something we have, go out of your way to thank them.
The next time somebody carelessly, recklessly and haphazardly throws around the phrase, “I have the right,” concerning any topic, please inform them that the right has been given to them.
Have a safe Fourth of July, and may God bless America!