On Feb. 24, on his 50th birthday, Dr. Rida Mazagri bade goodbye to his family in Charleston and headed to his native Libya where there was an uprising against Dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Mazagri, a neurosurgeon at Charleston Area Medical Center, knew that people would be wounded, and he wanted to help save lives.
"We knew it would be dangerous, but it was something he had to do," said his daughter, Hajer Mazagri. "He was disturbed. He couldn't sleep. He couldn't go through his days without thinking about it."
He was willing to risk his life to save the lives of others.
In the middle of March, Mazagri's worst fears became real. Gadhafi's police arrested him in the belief that he was an American agent. They allowed him to call his wife, but cut him off when he told her he was in Sirte.
"Then they started threatening to kill me. I told them, 'OK then, kill me, but let me pray first.' Then they decided not to kill me. . .
"The death part never bothered me," he said. "It's part of our religion. When it's your time, it's your time. And in my profession death is a common occurrence. You see it often."
Mazagri's trip to save lives in Libya seemed entirely in character to many of his patients and their families. A woman named Cheryl left a telling comment at the WSAZ website.
"My family and I are praising God for Dr. Mazagri being released from captivity," she wrote.
"He was my mother Sarah's surgeon when she was diagnosed with cancer. He was more than just her doctor. He visited her at home. He was her friend. Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers!"
Many Americans take their freedoms for granted.
Witnessing the passionate commitment of people like Mazagri, seeking to establish liberty where it does not exist, reminds us of what we know.
Freedom is not free.
It requires sacrifices, such as the ones Mazagri was willing to make.