On July 4, I joined with one of my daughters and her 10-year-old daughter to attend Santa Clarita’s hometown Fourth of July parade.
This annual celebration of our nation’s nativity had all the pomp and circumstance our medium-sized community could muster. In this happy celebration, we waved small U.S. flags and applauded floats and bands, antique cars and equestrian groupings, fire trucks, police cars and motorcycles. Boy and Girl Scout troops marched along with representatives of the Salvation Army, as well as high school football teams and cheerleaders.
But the participants who were most meaningful to me were a small group of patriotic citizens whose presentation was headed by a single veteran with a sign that said, “Please stand in honor of our fallen warriors.”
He was followed by others with banners showing names, details, and pictures of only some of our local servicemen killed in military service for our country. I stood with the others, with my hand over my heart, and (I confess) cried as this small section of the parade passed by. Truly, freedom is not free!
Today, in this “greatest country on God’s green Earth,” to quote radio commentator Michael Medved, we enjoy many freedoms. Our Constitution gives us the:
• freedom of religion,
• freedom of speech,
• freedom of the press, and the
• freedom to elect our leaders.
All of these freedoms were secured by the wisdom and dedication of our Founding Fathers.
“Let the annual return of [July 4] forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter in June 1826.
Patriotism may seem parochial to a new generation and soon everyone will do what is right in his own eyes. A nation’s common history, culture and values need to be honored and acknowledged by school children, brave members of our military, and the cultured elite, alike. If we fail to remember and reflect on these freedoms or selfishly demand them for ourselves and fail to courageously secure them for others we will progressively lose our freedoms.
This July 4th marked the 242nd anniversary of the signing of our nation’s Declaration of Independence. This profound document explicitly acknowledged God four times and we are told that all men are “created equal” and are “endowed by their Creator” with the unalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The declaration cites the “laws of nature and of nature’s God” as authoritative and appeals to Him as the “supreme judge of the world.”
Finally, the founders expressed in the declaration their “firm reliance on the protection of divine providence.”
These first principles of nation building are linked to biblical truth, moral tradition and a scriptural understanding of liberty. They were not withdrawn 11 years later when the U.S. Constitution was approved. The framers did not need to restate in the Constitution what they had already established in the declaration: the one true God of the universe is the true source of our liberties.
We need to affirm our patriotic commitments to a country that still formally acknowledges in our national motto and money that our freedoms are from the one true God, the maker of heaven and Earth.
In this time of extreme political correctness, let us pursue biblical patriotism (Jeremiah 29:7), religious freedoms and civic responsibilities, while affirming our loyalty to and patriotic pride in being citizens of this great country.
May our God continue to protect and bless these United States of America!
Gary Curtis is a Newhall resident.