America! America! / God shed his grace on thee / And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea!

The Fourth of July is a reflective day of celebration for citizens of the United States of America. Patriots of this great nation pay tribute to the adopted declaration by the Continental Congress on July 4th, 1776. It is a day colored by red, white, and blue. It is a day sketched with iconic traditionalism – the Star Spangled Banner, apple pie, baseball, parades, flags, barbecues, family, and friends. Of course the day wouldn’t be conclusive without an exultant firework display.

Just thinking about Independence Day myself, so many phenomenal memories flood my mind. When I was young my family always went downtown Grand Rapids to see the firework display over the Grand River. I actually used to hate the sound of the fireworks and I remember curling up close to my father and making him cover my ears with his hands! As I grew tradition changed and we began spending the day in Grand Haven. We would soak up the sun, walk the pier, and at the end of the day join thousands of people as the largest musical water fountain displayed patriotic anthems to a choreographed H2O musical before a firework display lit the sky with fervor. Over the years there have been a few obscure memories. One spent in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and one spent in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. What I loved most of each of these experiences was the fact that our perched vantage point allowed us to see neighboring fireworks in surrounding cities and towns! Fortunately, like the majority of Americans, the celebration doesn’t cease with the impressive show of sky-fire, but instead we head home to celebrate with our own firework displays. Some even resort to their pistols and shotguns to signify the resounding battle won that birthed a nation. The cracks and pops and booms can be heard until the morning light.

This sense of patriotism is a display of who we are as Americans and the history that brought us to where we are today. Americans are sons and daughters of immigrants. Many of us are muts – an ancestral makeup of diverse backgrounds. I for one am part Native American, German, English, and Dutch. We were born of tough people. People who fought for freedom. People who fought to give their children freedom. We defeated the British’s cruel tyrants and unrepresented taxation. And a nation was founded that is accepting of all people. A nation was founded that allows individuality, grants opportunity, fights for liberty, and allows religious freedom. The toughness, the love of country, the fight to protect our land is in our blood. It is who we are.

It was George Williams Curtis that said, “A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.” Our principle in the land of the brave is truth. And “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

And in honor of this nation’s 236th birthday, I have selected a few quotes by our founding fathers that signify love for country, love for freedom, and a love for Jesus Christ.

“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. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” 
The Trumpet Voice of Freedom: Patrick Henry of Virginia, p. iii.

“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.” 
History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.

“I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.” 
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 385.

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.

May God continue to bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America!

Let freedom ring.

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