I approach this July 4th with what can be best described as mixed emotions.
Most certainly, I want to celebrate the birth of our great Republic. Oh, how youthful memories flow of those 4ths of July spent at baseball tournaments or family reunions at my grandmother’s. As a young adult, many an Independence Day meant a trek to my Uncle Fayette’s annual barbecue and rodeo. Years later, the fireworks exploded over Lake Oconee as my wife and I joined the Smiths for the yearly ritual camp-out at her mother’s home.
I can relate to the late Erma Bombeck, who said,
“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”
Yep, I have seen many a fly die from happiness on the 4th of July.
Being a history buff, I am also fascinated with the story of the American experiment. “We hold these truths to be self-evident….” emphatically puts forth the source of “certain unalienable rights.” What a July it was in Philadelphia that summer of 1776. As one minister recently stated, “We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.”
We sing an anthem about the “land of the free and home of the brave.” We pledge allegiance to “liberty and justice for all.” We take pride in the Statute of Liberty in New York harbor. And yet, it seems that freedom and liberty within our Republic have never been under attack more than they are today.
Recent events have made our annual freedom celebration to be more than just a flag-waving, fireworks-shooting, barbecue-cookout kind of holiday. It is a time to reflect on the true meaning of freedom. In the face of growing attacks on the religious liberties of our nation, we must remain mindful of the threat. Former Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia says, “The day when Americans could take the Founders’ understanding of religious freedom as a given is over. We need to wake up.”
Freedom is one of those things that can be good or bad. Exercised properly, it leads to fulfillment. Abused, it leads to addiction and tyranny. I am reminded that there is One who says that “the Truth will set you free.” Maybe that’s the problem; we have been too busy defining our own truth that we never discover THE Truth.
So as you enjoy the cookouts, the ball games, and the day off from work, please take a moment and give thanks for our freedoms and pray that our Leaders will remember that it is the Creator that provides us with those unalienable rights and not the State. And that true freedom only occurs when it complements and reflects the truth of reality.
May we remember all of those who have sacrificed for our freedoms.
May we not take our freedom, both physical and spiritual, for granted.
May we always remember that our liberties were purchased at a very high price.
May we have leaders who believe government should secure and protect its citizens’ natural rights.
May we have leaders who recognize that tyranny is the only consequence when a State defines its freedoms apart from Truth.
God Bless America!
Note: Picture courtesy of Andy Feliciotti at Unspalsh.com