Tomorrow is July 4. It is Independence Day. It is a day where picnics are held, ball games are played, fireworks are displayed and parades are seen. But back in 1776, the only fireworks took place in Philadelphia where a group of patriots had gathered from the 13 colonies to take the momentous step of declaring independence from Great Britain.
These men in some cases were famous like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Ben Franklin. But many were not so well known. However, in their time, the over 50 signers were respected and trusted by those who had entrusted them for the task at hand. These men laid it all on the line. As the document said, they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in defense of liberty.
And as the document, the Declaration shows, most all of them entrusted the fate of their cause to God. In fact, Benjamin Rush, one of the signers, would later go on and start the still existing American Bible Society.
These men laid it all on the line for America. Some lost everything doing it as the war for independence proved long and grueling. It would be a war of great moments and harrowing debacles. But in the end with God's help, great leadership by Christian generals like George Washington, and with the sacrifice of not the summer soldiers or the sunshine patriots as they were called, but by those who were truly committed, America became a free nation which for over 200 years has been in so many ways as Ronald Reagan said, become a shining city on a hill to the world.
We have freed millions and fed millions and received millions into the hope of a better life and liberty. At times we have dropped the ball. We have let our moral fabric decline and too often forgotten the God who first sustained us.
We have exported abortion and too often but greedy. But without America, this world would be a very sad and dark place. The nation born so long ago has been indeed a bastion of hope for generations.
We celebrate it this week with pride. But there is still work to do and it begins and will be accomplished only with the kind of leadership that it began with. Today our leaders and our nation are polarized as much as any time since president Civil War America
We face issues and a lack of respect and civility that are daunting. But one of the reasons for that involves some common takeaways from long ago. Those Founding Fathers put America first. They were men who were trusted to do the right thing. They were not ego driven but people centered. They were not owned by special interests and they did not have to pander to a left or right media bias or special interest groups.
It was not for them about them so much as the dream. Today that dream is as threatened internally as externally. Our nation has lost to some degree its vision. It begins to be reignited with leaders with more than a slogan but with real commitment and trust building and personal sacrifice.
John Kennedy said it well when he said “ask not what the country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” Franklin Roosevelt outlined the dream of the Four Freedoms of freedom from want and fear and freedom of religion and faith. Lincoln advocated for a new birth of freedom and government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Leadership and America and America's future this 4th depends on the things it depended on in the beginning...an informed and dedicated and committed citizenry; trusted and honest leadership at all levels and civil discourse; and above all a trust in God.
If the vision of freedom is to be sustained these are essential. If the lady with the lamp is to stand forever and the American eagle is to soar high; then these things need to be there. Our Founders and God gave us liberty and a great vision. It is up to us to continue to stoke it and keep it alive. We can and must. This 4th, pray for our nation and thank God for it. And cherish the freedom we have.