I have no idea where this piece of political art exists, but when I saw it online, I thought—of all things—of Patrick Henry’s famous speech in which he closes with “give me liberty or give me death!” Same idea. Different wording.
The words ‘live free or die’ are iconic to American political philosophy. They capture and reflect the assertive independence typically found in our nation’s politics, which tends to hold an attitude that even death is preferable to life without freedom. Any self-respecting American can identify with the phrase in this artwork and appreciate its significance to our cultural and political history. Even the most unpatriotic citizen can surely agree that America, despite whatever problems it may have, can at least be credited for consistently standing by its thoughts on freedom.
To distract from that paragraph, which unintentionally became a soap box lecture, here’s a fun fact: “Live Free or Die” happens to be the official state motto of New Hampshire, adopted in 1945.
Apparently, the phrase comes from a toast written by General John Stark, New Hampshire’s most famous soldier of the Revolutionary War. On July 31, 1809, Stark declined an invitation to an anniversary reunion of the Battle of Bennington, but included in his note a toast for the evening which read:
Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.
More than two centuries later, Americans still agree.