I remember it as if it were this morning. I stood at the foot of my bunk in the squad bay that would be my home for the next three months. Drill Instructors swarmed throughout the squad bay until suddenly one stood nose to nose with me. Red-faced, veins bulging, screaming, and spraying he ‘politely’ posed a question. “Recruit Tanner, why did you join the Marine Corps?” With as much courage as I could muster, I yelled back, “to serve and give back to my country, sir.”
It probably seems trite, but I meant it. I happen to believe America is the greatest nation in the history of the world. I truly wanted to give back to this nation in some humble way.
It isn’t the government, the capitalistic economy, the Founding Fathers, or even the great people that make America great. Not to get political, but this nation isn’t made great by any presidential candidate. This nation is made great through the blessings of God. I believe God is willing to bless this nation because we’ve traditionally held firm to the strong belief in the principles of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
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.
The real meaning of Independence Day tends to get lost among all the activities of the holiday. Gatherings around the bar-b-que grills and swimming pools overshadow any thought of the birth of this nation. Enjoying the day with friends and family is super important, but equally importance is giving consideration to the birthday celebration of America.
Giving consideration of this great nation leads me to ask myself, “what do I want my kids to know about American Independence Day?”
It’s a birthday celebration, not a military recognition
It never fails that someone attempts to turn Independence Day into a recognition of our servicemen and servicewomen in our military. These are awesome people, heroes even. However, their recognition is observed on Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day.
It’s about everyone, not just the Founding Fathers
America’s Founding Fathers were incredible men filled with a wisdom and courage that far surpasses most. However, American independence is about every American. The declaration itself states the signers were “Representatives of the United States of America” and they published the declaration “in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People.” It was the unity of every American behind the principles of the Declaration of Independence that birthed this nation.
It’s about principles, not a flag
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. The independence of this nation is based on belief in unalienable rights of every person, not loyalty to a flag. The American flag didn’t even exist at the signing of our independence declaration. People may desecrate the American flag by burning it, throwing it to the ground, stepping on it, or worse, but that is their right. I don’t like it, but it is their right. Their actions to desecrate the flag, however, will not change the universal principles upon which this nation was founded.
It’s a declaration, not a covenant with God
The incredible blessings and prosperity of America have caused many to begin to rest on our laurels. The Bible speaks of God’s covenant with a nation, a covenant where God promises eternality of his chosen nation. That chosen nation is Israel – not America. America enjoys no such promise from God. The only hope for American eternality is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
It’s a birthday, not THE birthday
I love America and I celebrate its birthday. But if faced with the choice of America or Jesus, I’ll choose Jesus every time. May I always remain more loyal to Jesus than I am to America. May my impulse to go in response to God’s commands exceed my impulse to stand at the singing of the National Anthem.
Enjoy your time with family and friends this Independence Day. And take some time to recognize the wonderful nation that is celebrating another birthday. Teach your children the history and significance of America’s independence. Lead your family to abide by 2 Chronicles 7:14 in order that we will continue to have a great nation to celebrate.
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