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  • Writer's pictureRaymond Niblock

Introducing Jon Freeman, the Protagonist in "The Last Independence Day."

A view looking south across the Valle Grande toward NM Hightway 4

Beneath the Arkansas sweltering sun of a land etched with history stands Jon Freeman, a man rooted in the fertile soil of privilege and tradition. Born into a family of lawyers and military men, Jon’s career path seemed preordained, carved out by the generations before him. His upbringing was a tapestry woven with threads of Southern gentility and academic excellence.


Jon’s early years were cradled in the arms of prosperity. Though not born into wealth, his parents carved their destinies with tenacity and intellect to develop wealth through hard work. His father, raised by a single mother in urban 1930s Little Rock, and his mother, a rural Arkansas farm girl from the White River Valley east of his hometown, Fayetteville, both understood the transformative power of education. Like a sacred family heirloom, his parents passed this belief down to Jon and his siblings. Higher education was not just an option. It was a sacred duty.


Upon donning a lawyer’s suit and tie after a stint in the U.S. Army Specia Forces, Jon delved into the gritty reality of street law. His early days were a whirlwind of diverse cases, from divorce dramas to felony crime intrigues. This crucible of experience sharpened his skills, molding him into a lawyer of the people. It was something he was proud of, declining to represent corporations or insurance companies like the tall-building lawyers of Little Rock.


When Jon wasn’t mixing it up in the courtroom, he traveled with his husband, seeking the thrill of the unknown. Otherwise, he found solace in life’s simple pleasures - his work, family, and friends, but he had another vocation, that of a rancher.


He was the reluctant recipient of his best friend’s legacy, a massive cattle ranch situated in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, though he never chose to make that his life’s work. Instead, he took the title of “trustee” of the ranching operation and left the day-to-day operations to a ranch foreman. Even though he treasured the ranch and its setting in the mysterious Jemez mountains, Jon kept his focus on law practice, only visiting the ranch when it was necessary.


A younger Jon was an idealist, but by the time he hit his 50s, his philosophical musings gave way to pragmatic realism. The heady debates of youth faded into the background, replaced by a laser focus on tangible results and the comforting routine of daily life. Something about his five-plus decades of life tempered his passions in favor of a more pragmatic approach to the day-to-day.


Despite mellowing with age, politics remained a thorny issue for Jon. The hypocrisy exhibited by both parties left him without much hope that either party could effectively act as an honest agent of change for the people while minding the principles upon which the republic was built. The rise of the “Orange Man,” was a test for Jon, igniting fiery debates within Jon’s circle, especially among his more conservative military school friends who largely supported the Orange Man and the Orange Man’s authoritarian ideas. Jon found himself increasingly disillusioned, finding no merit in the arguments presented by his MAGA-supporting friends, especially the ones who claimed to be “patriots.” Meritless whataboutism and false equivalents were about the best his right-wing friends could come up with to justify the dismemberment of a country founded on democratic principles, so he had no use for the drivel.


Jon’s frustration with politics reached a tipping point after the Great Pandemic of 2019. He chose to distance himself from the ignorant rabble, seeking refuge in the belief that things would, somehow, work themselves out despite the worrying rhetoric that sought to divide the nation along the lines of race, religion, status, and a host of other things that so-called “conservatives” chose to us to classify and segregate people from one another.


In “The Last Independence Day,” Jon Freeman’s character takes a dramatic turn when he’s forced to confront his true beliefs and ideals, only to find himself in the crosshairs of Buckshot Brandy, the villainous Arkansas governor whose actions threaten not just Jon’s way of life, but the very fabric of his being. It is a story of redemption, resilience, and the relentless pursuit of justice in a nation teetering on the brink of civil war.


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