(Disclaimer- this post is not intended to spark a debate- just share some things I feel strongly about. Please let's not turn this into a segment of Hannity and Colmes (though naturally, I'd be Hannity. =)
I love history. It was one of my proficiencies in college, I teach it now, and American history, in particular, has always fascinated me. Then in 11th grade, I had the best history teacher in the history (see what I did there?) of the world, Mr. McBride. And that year pretty much sealed the deal for me as far as my favorite subject (other than English, of course.) And while I love to talk about the trivial, even silly things that make our country so great (huge malls! McDonald's! Disney!), it's the serious ones that are truly important and what I'd like to share, if I may.
I'm really a very, very sappy person when it comes to Independence Day. I can totally get a lump in my throat watching fireworks set to patriotic music, I cheer at "the land of the free" part during the national anthem, and any kind of military personnel being reunited with family? Forget it... I'm a basket case. Not only am I sappy, but America and patriotism and our nation's history are all topics that I can get very passionate and soapbox-y about very quickly. To avoid this, I try to stay away from talk radio and other media that
Am I going to deck out my home in red, white, and blue every year around this time? No, but I am patriotic and I do love our country. It's a little hard to do sometimes, considering the state that everything's in, but I do anyway. I hate to bog anyone down with a history lesson today (after all, it is summer and a holiday at that!) but here are a few things that everyone needs to keep in mind considering the attack on the truth regarding our country that is so prevalent today. (If you think there's no "attack," turn on CNN or read nearly any modern-day history book.)
1. America was founded on Christian, biblical principles, despite what most modern historians (and lying idiots like Michael Moore) would have you to believe. And no, not all the Founding Fathers were Christians or even particularly religious- but they were God-fearing men who respected Christians, respected the church, and respected prayer and the Bible. (When I say Christian principles, I don't mean going to church or tithing- I mean basic morality!) In fact, it was Benjamin Franklin, a self-proclaimed Deist, who, noticing the disarray and growing tension at the Constitutional Convention, stood at the age of 81 and suggested that each meeting begin in prayer.
"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?"
By the way, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and many others made statements very similar to this about the necessity of God in the plans and policies of government (NOT GOVERNMENT IN CHURCH! The separation of church and state was never intended to hurt the church but to protect it from the government. Look it up!)
2. No, that doesn't mean that everything about our nation "back then" was perfect. How many times have we heard people try to discredit the Constitution or some other document with the "rich white guys who owned slaves" argument? Well, our leaders today, who would be appalled at someone trying to legalize slavery, have no problem with the legalization of the murder of millions of babies a year. Am I excusing slavery? Never, but I think both generations can point a finger at each other's morals and find fault. Human error will always produce atrocities like slavery (and abortion) and certainly there are flaws in our nation's founders. BUT it's impossible to compare the two cultures/time periods and try to elevate today's "morals" over the 18th century politicians. Come on... really.
3. Do I love everything about our government? Today, I can truthfully say I love very little about our government. And there are certainly issues throughout history, starting with slavery and including, certainly, the government's treatment of the Native American Indians, that are absolutely wrong and make me mad. BUT I don't know of anyone who gets choked up and nostalgic thinking about the government (except maybe liberals... by the way, if you really want to know what a "liberal" is- my 6th grade history book this year defined it as someone who is eager to break away from traditional values and expects the government to provide for as well as protect its citizens. This may not sound terribly menacing, but apply that definition to lots of different areas and you'll see how it all plays out- not in a good way.)
4. If you want to see true leadership in action, read or watch interviews with Ronald Reagan. The "Reagan Revolution" saw an upward turn in the economy, in the military, in morality in our country... why? Because for the first time in decades, an administration was more interested in shrinking the government and emphasizing personal responsibility as opposed to bloating the bureaucracy and making "more resources" for the people available while actually lessening personal freedom. This return to our roots was not a fluke- it was successful because it works.
Anyway, I love our country because of the unbelievable history of it... how a few inexperienced settlers carved out permanent dwellings, how they put together governments and schools and roads and businesses as the population spread and these people, for the first time, were FREE. Free to worship, free to travel, free to work, free to earn and grow and prosper, free to trade, free to speak, free to write, free to protect themselves, free to make mistakes, free to disagree. So many different nations, religions, and beliefs were and are represented, but they all blended together into the beautiful patchwork quilt of a free people. I love it, not because the government will give me money if I want it, but because people like Andrew Carnegie, born to Scottish immigrants, worked hard to become one of the wealthiest (and most generous) businessmen of the 20th century. He was born poor and died rich- not because of government programs, but because of his freedom to work and keep what he earned. I love that, though still not even 300 years old, this nation has prospered and grown and become a beacon of hope and freedom to the world.
Is it still all of these things? I'd like to think so. I'm aware that so much has changed, that even at 24, the America I'm living in today is not the one I grew up in and certainly not the one I'll raise my children in. But the present can never take away the past, and despite the crazy and sometimes downright terrifying changes, I choose to remember the phenomenal truth of our founding, the extraordinary men and women through the years who have helped our country grow and improve through their innovations in so many fields, those who have boldly stood for truth and freedom even when others did everything in their power to silence those voices, and most of all, those who have FOUGHT and DIED for our freedoms. That's worthy of its own post, but one final high horse- those who criticize our country and our military and try to tear the very fabric of all the America represents- study a Communist country or two and the punishments for "dissension from the government" and maybe then you'll think twice about criticizing those who give you the right to run your mouth.
Like I said, I'm unfortunately aware of the problems- economic, spiritual, social, moral, and more- that plague America today. And I'm actually not turning this into a "repentance and revival" post- if you want to hear all that, there are hundreds of sermons on the topic. I'll just tell you what I tell my students- this is your country, and the only way to affect positive change (or at least slow the tide of destruction) is to educate yourself. Children in other countries often know more about American history and culture than American students do. This can partially be attributed to a breakdown in our education (rabbit trail) but really... it's appalling that even many adults have no idea what the Constitution says- they've never even read it! If you don't know what your freedoms are, you'll be far less outraged when they're taken away. So know your nation's history, know what your rights and freedoms are, and for the love of George Washington, get out and vote! (I recommend this book and this book if you want a clear, truthful look at these topics.)
I told you this would be a soapbox. Clearly I can't talk about this too often lest I burst a blood vessel, but it really is important to me and it should be important to all Americans. Today is about more than barbecue or fireworks or homemade ice cream, even though I will probably enjoy all three before the day's over. It's about remembering our past- the fact that a group of mostly unskilled, untrained farmers and merchants decided enough was enough and, with a few tired muskets and a lot of determination, won their INDEPENDENCE from the strongest power in the world at the time. Why? Simply put, they decided their freedom- their families' freedom- was worth it.
Kind of makes you proud, doesn't it?