Monday, July 04, 2011


I have been a bit emotional this weekend. I have felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for this country during the patriotic celebrations. The fireworks and festivals are fun opportunities for family togetherness, but the most central part has been my own contemplation about the founding of The United States of America and the precursors that paved the way for the beginnings of this great nation. I've thought a lot about Mormon (an ancient prophet that Latter-Day Saints believe lived over a thousand years ago on the American continent...if you're curious, you can learn more about him here) and how he and his son watched the destruction of their people but looked forward to the day when the land would once again become "a land of promise" and that their faithless, wicked brothers would be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I've thought about Nephi (another ancient prophet from The Book of Mormon) who also saw in vision the destruction of his people and prophesied of gentiles (that's us!) being directed by the hand of God to travel here, to settle here, and to once again establish it as a great nation.

And if you read accounts of the early settlers or our great founding fathers, their faith is foremost in their minds, their recognition of the hand of God in their successes and in preparing a way for them to obtain their goal of a republic free from oppression. They absolutely understood that their cause was just and that God supported them in their efforts. They were great men of faith, vision and understanding and I have wanted to weep with gratitude the last few days for their choices that have provided a a place for me to raise my family in the way that I best see fit. It all comes down to these fellas...

...and this beautiful lady...

I thought of these people, my precious family, as I sang 'The Star-Spangled Banner' on Sunday in church and tears streamed down my face as I contemplated the words:
Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved 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 presesrved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it 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!"

How much they recognize the power of God in their struggle! How succinctly Francis Scott Key summarized their faith, their devotion, their TRUE patriotism in his stirring poem! I wept as I sang it again today at a morning devotional our church organized and I thought of the story behind the national anthem and how Francis Scott Key searched for visions of the flag in the night,

What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it cathes the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

Again, I thought of my family, my children, and my responsibility to teach them about the founding of this nation, about the hand of God in directing His great work and fulfilling His promise to make this "a promised land." It was stirring in a different way than I usually experience around the Fourth of July when I'm excited about fireworks and family barbecues and I feel simple pride in our great nation. This year has been more of a spiritual experience as I've realized that my patriotism is directly tied to my religious faith. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for God's power. We wouldn't have the freedoms we do (and we must fight for them still!) if it hadn't been for our righteous founding fathers and their passion for their great work. This country as we know it has been thousands of years in the making, preparations were made far before ships landed at Plymouth Rock. God prepared and cultivated this land Himself and I hope we can remember Him better in our celebrations.

However you celebrate may the spirit of this day be with you and your family!