Rochelle Stidham

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

- The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate our freedoms, and as Americans, we have many. Slow down and take the time to read the First Amendment to our Constitution and savor the meaning.

Many people will celebrate with fireworks, cookouts, parades, and family gatherings, which is great. I do all of those things, too. But, I do try to stop and reflect on the freedoms I enjoy.

The First Amendment generally goes unnoticed until you need it or unless your chosen career path drives it home to you as mine does. I feel it should be studied in schools more so Americans can understand that it really is a cornerstone of democracy.

Perhaps, this would garner more support for our fighting troops and veterans. It’s because of these brave men and women that we can celebrate the First Amendment.

Stop and read each word carefully and take the time to share with friends and family just how much freedom our country has.

How important is it to you to express your beliefs without fear? Freedom of speech is a great thing. It’s a way to get laws changed or made for the betterment of our society.

Of course at the forefront of my mind is Freedom of the Press.

The First Amendment helps the free press keep the public informed, as well as bring positive change, and helps hold our government and officials accountable when making decisions. The press relays information important to Americans so that we can make informed decisions.

Without the press, it wouldn’t be easy to keep up with matters important to us. This allows us to maintain a democracy that we all can live with.

The First Amendment protects the press from unveiling sources when reporters do a story, and the public has the right to know the story.

The communities we all live in expect the press to get the investigative and breaking news stories that impact our lives on a daily basis.

We should all thank God for the freedoms we enjoy.

ROCHELLE STIDHAM is publisher of the Empire-Tribune.