As this Fourth of July rolls around, our great country has a storied history upon which we may reflect – the bravery of the first settlers, among them the Pilgrims; the genius of the Founding Fathers; and so many men and women who have died for the cause of freedom.
The American “experiment” remains one of the greatest accomplishments in the course of human freedom. There is little doubt that the Creator of all men had a hand in the survival of what began as 13 fledgling colonies.
At no other time in human history has so much genius in the form of a handful of men shown up in the same place at the same time, dedicated to the same great undertaking. The names of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison and Franklin will forever be linked with freedom’s cause.
In giving up her sovereignty of the American colonies, what appeared to be a disaster for England actually resulted in her salvation less than 200 years later.
No nation has influenced the freedom of the world like America.
But America’s freedom has exacted a great price. Through the course of history, streams and rivers and ocean tides have run red with the blood of America’s sons and daughters.
Hundreds of thousands have made the ultimate sacrifice to secure and defend our freedoms. Countless numbers of our best and brightest died too soon.
Sometimes I think their mothers and fathers may have paid as great a price.
So many mothers saw their babies leave for foreign shores never to return.
What a price laid at freedom’s altar!
And then there were those brave soldiers who returned home never to be quite the same – their psyches inalterably changed by the horrors of war encountered on the seas, on the battlefields and in the air.
When I think of freedom’s great price I am overwhelmed by its likeness to holy ground. And I want to remove my shoes and fall on my face in reverence of its sacredness.
So, to celebrate our freedom I have, with this column, included two stanzas from “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It is important that its words remain familiar, especially those of the second stanza. May you read them thoughtfully.
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And in these days when our freedoms are once again under assault, may the words of another song be our constant prayer:
“Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might
Great God, our King!”