Today is the fourth of July, a day that lives in my memory as a special family day. There were other days that my family celebrated such as Decoration Day, aka Memorial Day” “Christmas” and “Easter”, but the “Fourth of July” was specially special because of what it stood for.
Many people today only know it as a day to “shoot off” fireworks. But, I remember what it used to be. In school I learned, “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.”
Today there are forces within America that want to remove our Constitution, take away our rights to live life as we choose, to have the liberty to follow the dictates of our own hearts and to pursue happiness.
In the world today the Creator God is denied existence, it was not so in my youth. Church was as much part of my life as was school. In fact, we got time off from school to attend “Tuesday School” at my church. My small town had two churches; they were Lutheran and Methodist. Very different doctrinally, many, nevertheless, intermarried; we were family.
I was unaware of other religions and other races as a child. As an adult I became aware of both of these, as I left the small community I was raised in. I had not been taught to hate, and so I had no prejudice in me against either. I came to understand that many Jewish families made their faith part of every day life, as we did. That Baptist and Pentecostal people also loved God as we did.
The immigrants who came to America in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s were seeking a better place, a better life. They maintained their cultural heritage and language at home, but they taught their children to adapt and adjust to the heritage and language of America. They chose to raise their children in America and that meant learning the language and respecting others. I do not see this today with those who seek asylum in America from the terror and genocide of their country of origin.
I am a fourth generation American of Scandinavian design. I was taught to love America. I was taught to be thankful for this land that we call home. We did not want to change the basic form of government. We had the right to go to the polls and vote when we disagreed with the way things were going in Washington D.C., and we were actively involved in our communities and in our state.
My family followed the Democratic party. As a young person I marched in a parade trying to convince people to vote for Harry Truman. On the Fourth of July our extended family, over 100 strong, would gather at a local park for a picnic. We celebrated America, family and food. There is no equal today. Families are separated by miles, by ideologies and by doctrine. Unity is missing from America today. I see division, anger and hate being stirred up and it causes me to pray, “God have Mercy upon us and bless us once again.”
George Berlin wrote the song, “God Bless America”, Kate Smith made it famous. I don’t suppose that there is one fourth of July that goes by that my husband and I have not sung this song. Yesterday at church we gathered around the flag pole and sang it as a prayer to our Creator God. May God once more Bless America!
“God bless America, Land that I love.
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above.
From the mountains to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God Bless America, my home sweet home,
God Bless America, my home sweet home!”