Thomas Paine once said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” Of course, he was speaking of the American Revolution–possibly the only revolution in history to ever end well for the people that initiated it. What came of the sacrifices of so many brings us to this day, 241 years later.
This is our opportunity to thank God for this place called the United States of America. To thank Him for all He did in raising up the right people at the right points in history that allowed this nation to become the most powerful one on the face of the earth in such a relatively short period of time. To thank Him for people willing to sacrifice all they had to build this nation, and for those who have died and are continuing to die to secure freedom for future generations.
Unfortunately, many, if not most people won’t think about those generations of patriots as they celebrate what’s now only known as “The Fourth”. In between their picnics, parades and fireworks displays (all great things to be sure), it would be wise if all of us would take the time to read the Declaration of Independence—especially those who have children. Do they— do we really understand what it meant when those 56 men put their signatures to that document? As British subjects, they were committing treason. They were setting themselves—and their loved ones—up for certain hardship and possibly death. It’s important that we not forget this and that the youngest among us hear the stories of these people that they are likely being denied in the public schools of today.
Stories like one of the lesser-known of the Declaration’s signers, Francis Lewis. Not long after putting his name on the iconic document, while he was still away, the British forces were sent to destroy his home in Whiteside, New York. His beloved wife Elizabeth was living there at the time and tried to remain calm as a warship fired on their home. All of their belongings were destroyed and pillaged, and Elizabeth was taken captive. The conditions of her life in captivity were extreme–little food, no change of clothing and no bed. When General George Washington managed to make an exchange of prisoners–it took some time to do so– Elizabeth’s health had deteriorated and she died in 1779 in Philadelphia.
The same fate awaited many of the other signers and their families. Tragically, if students in today’s public schools hear anything about these people, it’s likely to be negative: “rich, white, slave-owners”. It’s possible that if enough young people hear the words of the Founding Fathers—and I’d even go as far back as the pre-founding generation (the Pilgrims)***—they might realize and be humbled at what it took to build the nation.
Younger Millenials and those after them–Generation Z, or Centennials– could be the ones to turn things around again. Maybe, like King Josiah in the Bible, after hearing the words of God’s long-lost Law for the first time, they’ll be moved to tears when they read these words from our Declaration of Independence: “…with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
They’ve had their heritage stripped from them, and many aren’t even aware of it. If or when they ever do look up from their ipads, iphones and video games to realize it, they may be pretty upset at the generations before them for keeping them in the dark. For keeping them entertained but un-enlightened.
They need to know that the United States of America is still the last best hope for freedom for people from all over the world, even in our current circumstances, which admittedly aren’t good. It would do us all good to keep in mind the words of people like Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian evangelical minister and author who spent 14 years in a Romanian prison for his faith. In 1967, he called America the hope of every enslaved man, and reminded Americans of a truth that may be even truer now: that freedom-loving people all over the world are counting on us not to let the flame of liberty burn out. Wurmbrand said: “I have seen fellow prisoners in communist prisons beaten, tortured, with 50 pounds of chains on their legs—praying for America…that the dike will not crumble; that it will remain free.”
With that said enjoy the festivities—but take time to remember. Happy Independence Day!
**In this month where we celebrate freedom and independence, many Americans are feeling less free in their everyday lives. A recent Gallop poll found 79 percent of Americans were satisfied with their level of freedom. That was down 12 points from 2006. It’s clear something is very wrong with our perceptions of freedom and liberty. The following is an editorial my father wrote to his local newspaper, The Batavia (NY) Daily News. He wrote this prior to 2009, and it seems even more applicable now.
There were 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Fifty-two of them were orthodox, deeply-committed Christians; the other four all believed in the Bible as the Divine Truth. These brave patriots put up their money, property and lives to build this new nation. They were hunted like wild animals; their homes were burned; their property confiscated; their families had to go into hiding and were mistreated if found. If caught, they would hang. Most were homeless, in very poor health and broke by the end of the war. These great patriots were statesmen, not merely politicians. I wonder how our ten percent [approval rating] Congress would act under similar events.
We are losing our freedoms every day. While Americans sleep, [they] wake up long enough to vote these same jokers back into office. From here, some of the worst are appointed to cabinet positions—that is like having the inmates run the asylum. For the readers over 50 [or 55 now], the ones who should remember when we were a God-fearing nation, everything was going our way. We became a great and powerful nation. People from around the world came seeking religious freedom and a better life.
Then in the sixties, we started down the slippery slope to where we are now. In 1962, the Supreme Court restricted prayer in public schools; in 1973 the court found that the so-called “right to privacy” includes unrestricted access to abortion. In 1985 the court overturned a state law setting aside a moment of silence for voluntary prayer in public schools. In 2000, the court overruled a Texas law allowing high school students to pray at athletic events. In 2002, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion because it contains the words “under God”. In 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the display of the Ten Commandments in a state courthouse was unconstitutional.
These decisions by a handful of unelected, imperious Justices are determined to control more and more of our private lives, erase our spiritual heritage and forever redefine us as a nation. The Constitution charges Congress with the responsibility to check the Federal Courts; they have totally abdicated that duty. Nationwide, we have high courts—an unaccountable arrogant judiciary appointed for life–determined to make us dance to their music.
P.S. : “Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster and what has happened once in 6,000 years may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fall, there will be anarchy throughout the world.”—U.S. Sen. Daniel Webster (1782-1852)