♫ Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory 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! ♫
This final verse to America’s national anthem always fill me with chills – not just because of the poetic quality, but because of what comes to mind when I consider American history. In 1776, fifity-six individuals placed their name on a piece of parchment and solemnly pledged “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” in support of its text. These men envisioned a nation where freedom and representation for the people was not just a dream. They were idealists, yes, but it was one of those great times in history where ideals became reality. Not immediately, though. No – it took over 10 years and a long, brutal war before the Constitution, which became the overarching legal document for future generations was ratified. America had been through a lot, and that was only the beginning.
Through many long and violent wars, one of them between brothers, America has endured and grown and the fiery passion for liberty hasn’t died. Sure, some things have deteriorated, and there’s plenty of room for improvement. I would be the first to admit that many of the ideals that the Founding Fathers sought to protect have been marginalized – some have even been usurped entirely. But what did our Founding Fathers say about this? Their example alone is worth careful attention. Most Americans are likely familiar with one particular passage from the Declaration which states,
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
But, I would wager much fewer are familiar with the following lines:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed…Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.
They believed that they had utterly exhausted their abilities to seek restitution and were compelled to separate from the government of Great Britain. Further evidence follows after the list of King George’s usurpations,
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our comon kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity.
They truly felt that there was no other course of action but total independence from the British Crown. I cannot help but feel that their situation radically surpasses our own sufferings in this nation. We have representation – it might not be ideal, but we, the people, elect them. If we do not like the legislation they pass, it is our Duty to hold them accountable in the next election. We should praise God that the government our Founders established is still in effect. The American people still have power – we must remember that fact. That is something that is worth celebrating, today, is it not?
I would like to draw particular attention to one portion of the above text – “We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.” Often, it is easy to forget how deeply religious freedom is rooted in this nation. The early settlers came to this land to seek freedom from religious persecution and to live their lives free from the restraint of oppressive government regulation. In that same spirit, the United States of America were formed.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States
The trust in divine protection has been visible for generations. A visiting Frenchman, years later, remarked that “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” He saw the Christian lives of the people and their deep trust in God as remarkable. My favorite quote of all time comes from James Madison, where he states, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The only reason that America has endured as such a visible sign of freedom is because of our trust in God. That is something to celebrate today, is it not?
Today is July 4th, 2012. This is the day that Americans set aside to celebrate the freedoms we have in this nation. Freedom of religions, freedom of speech, freedom to bear arms, freedom from unlawful search and seizure, freedom to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty, freedom to have a speedy and public trial before before an impartial jury, and countless other freedoms that America provides. These rights and freedoms do not come from our government – our government acknowledges these rights as coming from God. Where else on this planet will such a proclamation be heard? That is something to celebrate today, and I intend to do so. Will you join me in celebrating this land that God has blessed, and continues to bless?
May God Bless America, and may the star spangled banner fly for generations to come.
~ A Renegade for Christ