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Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death: A History Lesson

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death: A History Lesson by Robin Karr, Co-Author, The Motherless Project

Originally published on May 26th, 2014

Another Memorial Day is here – a day set aside to honor Americans who’ve died while serving in the military. Although Memorial Day is “officially” a day to remember those who died fighting for our freedom, it’s also become a day when we remember family members loved and lost, and a time to decorate their grave sites. Many take this opportunity to also gather around the backyard grill, swimming pool, etc. Fireworks often close out the day as families spend time together.

As I continue to listen to friends and family make plans for how they’ll spend this holiday, I can’t help but think about my “missing” children and about how I won’t see them. Holidays have come and gone for over fifteen years now, and I haven’t seen my children for any of them. Memorial Day, in particular though, is finally getting to me and I have to talk about why. I just have to.

While it’s true I never fought in any war as a military person, I have fought in another kind of war as a citizen. I fought in a war that many don’t even know was ever launched. I’m talking about the war against women and children. For more than two decades, protective and loving mothers like me have been fighting to hold onto their very own children after entering into the family court system. If interested in learning more about why fit mothers are losing custody of their children in mass numbers, read "To Lose a Child Through Life."

And make no mistake; the family court system is a war zone where there are countless casualties. Many mothers and their children have been killed, and those who do manage to survive often go on to live as prisoners of war. Just look at the picture of me and my children taken at a supervised visit in 1999. My son had a black eye, and my daughter had a head injury. Worse than the physical injuries, perhaps: Their spirits had been completely broken. They were barely one and two, and yet, they were profoundly sad.

Robin Karr with her 2 children, ages one and two years old.

Children this young are not supposed to be sad. No – sadness comes later in life – not when you’re learning to walk and talk. And look at me. I was shell-shocked. My spirit had been broken as well. There can be no doubt, we were and still are prisoners of the war against women and children that rages on daily in family courts across this country.

Two and one half months after Ed took them.

So many of the songs we’ll hear played on the radio this Memorial Day will tell us to be thankful for our freedom as we remember those who so bravely died to protect it. Billy Ray Cyrus’s song “Some Gave All” comes to mind, probably because it was one of my favorites many years ago. Through his lyrics, Cyrus tells the story of a man called Sandy Kane who says, “All gave some and some gave all. Some stood through for the red, white and blue and some had to fall. And if you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall some gave all.”

Those lyrics used to bring tears to my eyes. Honestly, they still do but for an altogether different reason. I think of “all my liberties” and about how a family court judge, along with other family court “players”, stole them. What is meant exactly by “liberties” or liberty anyway? Having liberty implies certain fundamental or basic rights. According to an on-line dictionary, “Freedom,independence and liberty all refer to an absence of undue restrictions and an opportunity to exercise one’s rights and powers.”

Many of our founding fathers set out to ensure these liberties or most basic rights long ago. Patrick Henry, an American politician and attorney renowned as one of the most influential exponents of Republicanism and defender of historic rights, once famously said: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take: but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, once said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” ”Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is a well-known phrase in the Declaration of Independence. This famous phrase gives three examples of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says has been given to all human beings by their Creator, and for which governments are created to protect.

Finally, the Constitution is considered to be the highest law in the United States – the supreme law of the land. It’s quite clear under the Constitution, that the pursuit of happiness involves the “right” to parent one’s own child. Specifically, a parent’s right to care for and have the companionship of his or her own children is so fundamental as to be guaranteed under the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. As mentioned already, the pursuit of happiness is an essential human right. Parent’s rights have been recognized as being “essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free man.” Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 US 390; 43 S Ct 625, (1923)

What happened to our liberties, then? How is it that my precious children were taken away from me through an exparte (secret) hearing in November 1998 without me even having a chance to defend myself? Even more to the point, how is it that over 58,000 children are taken from their mothers every year through the “American” family court system? How is it that innocent mothers are routinely arrested and jailed by family court judges for no legitimate reason? How is it that known child molesters are frequently given custody of their victims? Surely, our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves. Surely, those who died -those who gave all- fighting for our freedom would be completely aghast.

So, on this Memorial Day, I will absolutely remember those who’ve died to protect my rights as an American citizen; even though those rights have been completely trampled. However, I will also absolutely remember the many mothers who have fought and are still fighting right here on American soil to hold onto their own flesh and blood children.

There can be no greater heartache -no greater trauma- than to be separated from one’s own children. When a living child is taken from a living mother, that mother has been killed in some sense and that child has been wounded to the very core.

The taking of children is against everything this country stands for and is altogether illegal under the U.S. Constitution.

Today, as you remember military men and women who’ve died, please also remember the mothers who’ve bravely fought in the family court “war” and have lost their most basic God-given and constitutional rights to parent their own children. Especially remember the mothers and children who’ve been killed. Remember the mothers who are still in the trenches. And most of all, remember that we are not a free nation when thousands upon thousands of American mothers have been stripped of the right to know and parent their own children. As a mother of “missing” children for more than fifteen years, it is my deepest hope to be able to truly say one day that there is indeed liberty and justice for all.

No mother can pursue happiness without her children. “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death: A History Lesson by Robin Karr originally published at Mothers Without Custody

The Motherless Project by Robin Karr & Janie Brooks McQueen

Related articles:

Motherhood & Custody by Phyllis Chesler

Vengeful Father Syndrome by Melissa Barnett

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