A recent news item from Belle Plaine, Minnesota about a praying Soldier silhouette that must be removed from a public park caused me to once again ponder the definitions of and differences between “from” and “of”; thus it is time for a basic vocabulary lesson.
From, according to my aged dictionary, is a preposition with four different meanings. The first definition has to do with a point of departure, distance, or duration and is not pertinent to the question of the day. The second definition has to do with absence, removal, separation or exclusion and is quite pertinent to the question. The third definition has to do with difference or distinction and the fourth has to do with reason, cause, or motive. Like the first definition, neither the third or fourth are pertinent to the question. An on-line thesaurus listed against as a synonym of the word from.
Of, according to the same aged dictionary, is also a preposition with a dozen definitions none of which imply an absence or separation. Instead words such as relation, belonging, possessing, containing, with, and concerning are used in the lengthy definition. The on-line thesaurus referenced above listed regarding and concerning as synonyms of the word of.
The words from and of are critical to the news story about the praying Soldier silhouette as the Madison, Wisconsin based Freedom From Religion Foundation is central to the story. This organization is supposedly based on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but that amendment is about freedom of religion, not freedom from religion! Many very early settlers in the history of this country fled their European homelands because the royal leadership of those countries mandated a national religion and the American colonies afforded a freedom of choice concerning religion! The early settlers wanted to worship as they desired – not as the King or Queen dictated!
Thinking again of the recent news story, what about the freedom of speech for the taxpayers that support the public park? Doesn’t the First Amendment guarantee those taxpayers a certain freedom of speech for what their taxes support? Further, how does one know that this silhouette was of a praying Soldier?
Mark R. Levin, in the first paragraph of his latest book, REDISCOVERING AMERICANISM, states it so simply when he wrote: “I often wonder what Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, John Adams, George Mason, Benjamin Franklin, and the other Founders would think about today’s America. What about the earliest Boston revolutionaries, men like Samuel Adams, Joseph Warrens, John Hancock, and Paul Revere?” Levin concludes the first paragraph with: “Surely they would object.”