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"Freedom" is printed in strong, bold type. The word floats on a yellow background, across which the letters "patcofreedom" are written in a fainter yellow type. All of this is imprinted onto a plastic card that fits conveniently into my wallet, much like a credit card. This card is said to be "smart". It contains a monetary value which I can replenish at will from an automated vending machine located conveniently at the light rail station.

Recently, this rail station has undergone some changes. For many years, entrance to the light rail train car was guarded by a turnstile (a turnstile that was easily jumped). Now, rather imposing gates block entrance to the rail system, and these gates cannot be jumped. They were installed at the same time we train riders were required to obtain our "Freedom" cards.

I ride this train every day into a city where many years ago a group of men signed papers that created the United States of America, a nation said to be "conceived in liberty" by a man who lived four score and seven years after the papers were signed. A cracked bell stands near the site where these various papers of freedom were signed. As a child, I remember the bell was housed in a pavilion, and I recall simply walking up and touching it. Now, access to the bell is tightly controlled, and a visitor must pass through security checkpoints reminiscent of those one must traverse to board a plane.

At the end of my train ride, I use my "Freedom" card to exit gates that are identical to those that guard the station where I board the train. A certain dollar amount is deducted from the stored monetary value my "Freedom" card holds, and if that stored monetary value does not exceed the amount charged for the train ride, the gates will not open, and I will not be at liberty to walk down the street, purchase my coffee, and ride the elevator up to the space my employer provides for me to work in. I am not sure just how I'd escape in this circumstance, so I take care to keep track of the monetary value stored in my "Freedom" card, and ensure it is sufficient to allow me to safely exit the transit system.

All in all, I am quite content with my "Freedom" card, even though I didn't mind the old easily jumped turnstiles either.

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