Our staff piled into the multi-purpose room of our therapeutic home to witness a monumental day for anti-trafficking. This past week the House introduced 5 bills revolving around fighting trafficking. So, with popsicles in hand we all piled into one room to wait and see what would come about; would we be one step closer to change, would we simply see a new stage of awareness or would the topic be simply ignored. I sat there with my optimism and pessimism in battle with one another.
We watched for over two hours and I was encouraged. More than once, I witnessed my staff cheer. I watched as several turned around to smile as a congressman/woman “got it.” We watched as this issue became a bipartisan issue! Regardless of how you feel about the bills or the representatives presenting them, the attention and momentum it was(is) creating was exciting.
And, the bills passed. Just a few of the bills included:
— H.R. 4058: Requires states to identify and address sex trafficking of minors in foster care.
— H.R. 3530: Imposes additional financial penalties on sex traffickers and helps increase the amount of restitution victims could receive.
— H.R. 3610: Encourages states to put in place laws that treat minors who have been sex trafficked as victims rather than criminals.
— H.R. 4225: Makes it a federal crime to knowingly advertise for the commercial sexual exploitation of minors and trafficking victims.
As I experienced this monumental week, it made me appreciate the holiday I just observed. And, more importantly appreciate my dad and all the other men and women in my life who protected my freedom.
Freedom is a concept that has been plaguing my thoughts. What is it? How do we get it? How do we offer it to other people. More importantly, how often do I take it for granted?
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” -Nelson Mandela
When I was a little girl, my dad attempted to instill this value in me. Every year for Memorial Day, our family went camping and my dad would explain the importance of what the day meant. Every year for Veteran’s Day, dad would let Annie and I skip school and he shared his military stories, giving us all the details both good and bad. And, regardless of the event or who was around, when a patriotic song was played, he expected that we all stand up in respect.
Those moments often went unnoticed when I was younger. I lacked the understanding of how much my freedom cost and how much responsibility comes with that freedom.