As Americans relax at the beach, or deplore the wrangling of their Congress, a lesson in what it means to be a free citizen has been playing out in the Syrian city of Hama. Soldiers backed by tanks and automatic weapons attacked citizens seeking liberties and a better life. About 80 people, maybe more, were killed when tanks attacked on the eve of Ramadan. It was one of the most brutal crackdowns yet in the four months of uprisings against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Other civilian deaths were reported elsewhere in the country.

Hama was the site of an infamous massacre in 1982 ordered by Assad’s father.

President Barack Obama denounced the killings. As the president said, the attacks “demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime.”

We hope American influence, limited as it is, continues to press for an end to the violence. One day, we hope the heroes of Hama will be remembered in a free Syria.