This week America will celebrate 242 years of freedom as an independent nation. We will hear songs like “I’m Proud to be an American,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “America the Beautiful,” “God Bless America,” and our National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”
The words “home of the free and the land of the brave” will still make chill bumps run up and down your spine and cause your heart to swell with thanksgiving.
There will be family cookouts with bar-b-que, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, and maybe even some homemade ice cream with peach pie.
Many churches will feature the armed service songs from each military branch: “Anchors Aweigh” for the U. S. Navy, “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” for the U.S. Army, “The Wild Blue Yonder” for the U. S. Air Fore, “The Marines Hymn” for the U. S. Marine Corps and “Semper Paratus” for the U. S. Coast Guard.
There will be flag waving, fireworks, and the recognition of those who have served our nation in uniform. There will be tears shed at the thought of loved ones who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms.
However, what is real patriotism? It is love of country. Pride and honor. Freedom and Liberty. Sacrifice. Integrity and courage.
It is the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 when 51 courageous men mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor by affixing their signatures to the document.
It is courageous Revolutionary soldiers who bravely endured the raw winter weather of 1777-78 and troubling sicknesses like influenza, dysentery, typhoid, and typhus at Valley Forge – soldiers who were hungry with no fresh supply of food and who had neither shoes nor sufficient clothing to keep them warm and well, but who stood firm, because they had a cause for which they were willing to die.
Patriotism is when Abraham Lincoln the signed of the Emancipation Proclamation and freed slaves in the states that were in rebellion against the Union.
Patriotism is the U.S. Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi in Iwo Jima after a six-week battle in which 6,821 Americans were killed and more than 19,000 were wounded in one of the fiercest battles of World War II.
Patriotism is American soldiers holding the line at the 38th parallel while facing Communist North Korean and Chinese troops that outnumbered them like the Midianites outnumbered Gideon and his men in the book of Judges.
Patriotism is watching John Kennedy Jr. (John John) on his third birthday, November 25, 1963, saluting his father’s casket outside St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D. C. as the funeral procession made its way to Arlington National Cemetery.
Patriotism is embodied in the brave American troops that fought in the sweltering jungles of Viet Nam and the arid sand dunes of Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Patriotism is exemplified in men like Pat Tilman, age 27, who gave up the glamorous life of a professional football star with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army Rangers in order to fight for our freedom. He was killed in a firefight in Operation Mountain Storm in southeastern Afghanistan in April 2004.
Patriotism may be found in the absolute ecstasy Americans felt when our men’s hockey team defeated the four-time defending gold medalist, the Soviet Union, in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.
Patriotism is watching the Navy Band marching in a Fourth of July Parade and playing John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Patriotism is going to a ball game of any description whether it be high school, college, or professional and hearing the public address announcer exclaim, “Now, may we all rise for the presentation of the colors and the singing our National Anthem.” It is a privilege to stand, take off my cap, place my hand over my heart, and join in singing, “Oh, say can you see, by the dawns early light… “. It gives me a great sense of gratitude every time and I am proud to be an American.
Patriotism is also praying for our leaders. The Bible tells us in Romans 13 that, “All authority comes from God,” and Romans 13:2 says, “Therefore, he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God.” Timothy 2:1-2 is so important for all of us. It is there that Paul says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
For you to have been born in America or to have become a citizen of the United States is an indescribable blessing. To abuse it or misuse it or to take it for granted is a sin. Let’s be grateful for this wonderful gift and express our gratitude to our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
There is only one thing that could be better – a citizenship in heaven.