Happy Fourth of July

Today we celebrate the United States of America’ s birthday. From the desire for freedom sprang this beautiful nation. We have a rich and amazing history, and while we’ve hit some bumpy spots along the way, the nation has never yet forgotten the One who is the ultimate foundation, and may we never do so.

My maternal great-grandfather and paternal grandfather fought in WWII. Various other relatives have also sacrificed much to serve this great nation. My great-great-grandparents arrived from Sweden in search of a better life. I’m a mutt, you could say: Swedish, German, English, a touch of Scotch-Irish, and potentially the merest drip of Choctaw Indian. America is not called “The Melting Pot” for nothing. This land is home to the descendants of immigrants who sought a better life, who valued freedom over staying in their motherland, who wanted a fresh start. God has richly blessed America. From the Pilgrims onward, this land has become the beacon of freedom.

There are many songs espousing the U.S.A’s greatness, but few are so poignant as the two below.

While witnessing the Battle of Fort McHenry in 1812, Francis Scott Key penned the poem, “The Defence of Fort McHenry”. The poem was later turned into a song, which then became the United States of America’s national anthem. This is now known as “The Star-Spangled Banner”. The lyrics (which are public domain) of this wonderful song are:

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 rocket’s 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 still* wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam —
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream;

‘Tis the Star-spangled Banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave.

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave!

And the Star-spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the foe’s desolation;
Bless’d with victory and peace, may our Heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation
Then conquer we must, for 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 song captures what U.S.A was built on: faith, bravery, the fight for freedom, and the steadfast commitment to protect this land and her citizens no matter the cost.

Another beautiful, old song that perfectly captures the U.S.A at her best is “America the Beautiful” by Katharine Lee Bates (lyrics) and Samuel A Ward (music). [Lyrics are public domain]

O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
Wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!
O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice
For man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

This beautifully tells of our land’s history, splendor, and majestic topography variations. You can feel Bates’ awe, wonder, and praise to God through the incredible lyrics.

I grew up singing these songs. Though I no longer remember every verse, they still spark pride for my country’s uniqueness and cornerstone of faith and freedom.

In America’s bounty and blessings, we stand dangerously close to a precipice of self-pride. If we forget God is the Cornerstone of this nation, we will become like any other land. Some of our greatest presidents have issued warnings about this great travesty and straying away from our foundations, along with speaking on the importance of keeping our nation focused on God:

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. – Abraham Lincoln

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. – Ronald Reagan

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under. – Ronald Reagan

We know our nation is stronger, our future is brighter, and our joy is greater when we turn to God and ask Him to shed His grace on our lives. -Donald Trump

The God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? – Thomas Jefferson

I’m not saying it’s all bad/ but something’s clearly missing / the God that made a way to be forgiven – “Make America Great Again” by About A Mile

Let’s fight to keep our beloved nation aligned with God. Aligned with our faith. Aligned with the Constitution. Aligned with the morals, hope, and determination of our Founding Fathers.

The Pledge of Allegiance

And here’s another song to add to your patriotic playlist:

Happy birthday, America. May your colors ever fly true. May we never stray from the faith and freedom our nation was founded on. May we never forget Psalm 33:21: “Blessed is the nation whose God is Lord”.

Happy Independence Day.