I have a book in my house called Why We Fought: Key People of the Revolutionary War. A couple of times a week I sit down with my sons and we learn about a different person who helped to form our nation.
We’re only about halfway through but we’ve already covered major players like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. We’ve also learned about men like Crispus Attucks and James Armistead, men who fought bravely and sacrificially but who never had a college named after them.
All of these flawed men, white and black, rich and poor, share a common trait. They made great sacrifices for the cause of freedom. They were in the minority. Most of the people around them were willing to fall in line with tyranny just to avoid conflict.
Not these men.
A couple of hundred years later, I sit on my couch with my sons, not to talk about men who fell in line with everyone else but men who stood up. Men who refused to accept tyranny as the new norm. Men who didn’t mind going against popular opinion.
I have no idea what our country will look like by the time my sons grow up and have children of their own. But when it comes time for them to teach their kids about our nation’s history, maybe they’ll talk about Andrea Fornella Abbott.
In July of 2011 Andrea was going through a security line at the airport when TSA agents pulled her and her teenage daughter to the side for a full body scan and pat down.
She didn’t want her or her daughter to be “touched inappropriately” and she didn’t want images of their naked bodies flashing up on a screen.
As you can imagine, this didn’t go over too well with the TSA. Things got heated between the Abbott ladies and the TSA. During the confrontation, neither woman made a violent or aggressive move although Andrea does admit that she directed strong language at officers.
Andrea Abbott left the airport that day in handcuffs.
Earlier this week a Tennessee jury sentenced her to one year of probation for “disorderly conduct.”
The prosecuting attorney in the case claimed that Ms. Abbott’s actions held up lines for several minutes and prevented others from going on with their business. The surveillance video below tells a different story. In it you will see crowds moving freely and the police, not Andrea Abbott, acting as the aggressors.
At the moment all of our political discussions are centered around the presidential election. We’re talking about Big Bird, bayonnets and apology tours. As a nation, we’re probably more divided than we have been in a long time. Half of the country wants a cell phone and the other half wants a job. But somewhere along the line we’ve forgotten to consider the good of either of those things if we no longer have freedom.
As I write this, our government has thousands of drones flying around our “beautiful for spacious skies” just to keep an eye on us. Just to make sure that we stay in line.
This country was founded by men who refused to stay in line. Men like Thomas Jefferson and James Armistead.
If our country is to continue it will likely require men and women to once again fall out of line. Men and women like Andrea Abbott.
So far, my son’s favorite historical figure is Patrick Henry. They like his famous, “Give me liberty or give me death” quote. And I really enjoyed getting to explain what he meant when he said that. Sacrifice. Sacrifice for a cause.
I hope that several years from now my sons sit down to explain American history to their kids. I’m sure Patrick Henry’s name will come up. And maybe Andrea Abbott’s will too. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll talk about her as the one that showed us what it meant to be free again.
All because she wouldn’t stay in line.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The Constitution of the United States, Amendment IV