By Debra Whittington
“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
The calendar indicates that the fourth of July has passed once again as summer marches on. Still I can’t help thinking about that infamous date on the calendar in which we celebrate our country’s birthday. It is much more than a square on a calendar.
In fact, when a person takes a closer look at our country’s history they find the Declaration of Independence was approved on July 2 and the first signatures placed on the document on July 4.
However, it wasn’t until August 2, 1776 that Congress stated that all members needed to sign the document and they began adding their signatures.
Finally, it took until January 1777 that signed copies were sent to all of the states. If we take this a step further, we realize our country didn’t realize their independence until the British were defeated at Yorktown.
It isn’t the date that makes our independence so special, it is our freedom that we often take for granted.
As I read the words of the Declaration of Independence, I am always stirred by these words: “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.” There was no going back for the representatives that signed this document.
The attributes of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are among the many things that make this nation so special. However, they come at a great, great price.
The men who signed the Declaration of Independence paid dearly for their action. Some lost all their possessions and still others paid the price with their very life. They were willing to give all they had for the freedom of the new republic.
Down through the years, men and women sacrificed to keep our country free and were even willing to lay down their lives to maintain that freedom for each of us.
Even today, there are men and women so far away from home and their family and friends. They willingly serve their country so the rest of us can enjoy our freedom. Let us never forget their sacrifice and thank them for their service to their country.
It is important to remember the founding of our country and our forefathers who depended upon God as they fought for their independence. Preceding the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, they held a prayer meeting that lasted several hours. When they were drafting a constitution and setting up the new government they turned to God.
Patrick Henry is known for his famous quote, “give me liberty or give me death.” Here is a lesser known quote of his: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”
After 230 years of independence many people forget that great men who forged this great country of ours turned to God for guidance.
While I respect other religions and beliefs I am greatly distressed by their efforts to take away my religious freedom. I am especially distressed when they want to take all mention of God out of our Pledge of Allegiance and off of our money.
The word to the first verse of the “Star Spangled Banner” is well known. There is a lesser-known fourth verse to the song that Frances Scott Key wrote. Following the jubilation of seeing the flag still standing after the bombing of Fort McHenry that night he later penned these words:
O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us as a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Our independence and freedom is something that we should never take for granted.
There is nothing wrong being a patriotic, flag-waving American who thanks God for His mercy in making this nation so great. We don’t have to wait for a special day to acknowledge our great heritage.
Every time we say the Pledge of Allegiance, look at a flag, or even use money with the words inscribed on it “In God We Trust”, may we be mindful of this great country of ours. God Bless the United States of America!
Debra Whittington is a Quay County historian and avid churchgoer.