Stars and Stripes Forever – Theology Essay
Someone once said, “Everybody loves a parade.” As a boy, I remember the crowds of people lining both sides of the street in the tiny town of Herrick, Illinois for the annual Fourth of July parade. I miss that parade of people. It was a virtual kaleidoscope of Americana.
Regardless of the diversity of people, when the American flag passed by carried proudly by the color guard, we all stood in gratitude for the freedom we hold so dearly and saluted those who paid freedom’s price.
What would Independence Day be without the traditional fireworks displays lighting up the night skies across America with dazzling colors and patterns. I love to watch those amazing pyrotechnics accompanied by John Phillip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever”.
The grand finale is the red, white, and blue American flag exploding into the night sky. As I watch, I remember the great heritage left me by forbearers such as John Adams. I think of my wife’s ancestors, some of the first Swedish immigrants to settle in the Dakota Territory. I think of my Pakistani oncologist who came to America to live in freedom as a Christian. I think of others in our community who can freely practice their religion, if they desire. I think of the Hispanics and the Asians who have come to America seeking opportunities to live a better life.
I pray that the Stars and Stripes will wave forever over America. Our nation’s founding fathers knew how to count the cost of liberty. They considered our freedom much more important than the security they enjoyed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. They paid the price to win our freedom.
Someone has said, “To be born free is a privilege. To die free is an awesome responsibility. Yet freedom is never free. It is always purchased at great cost.” John Quincy Adams warned us, “Posterity – you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” In 1776 Thomas Payne gave us this insight, “What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a price on its goods and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
How can America continue to be a great nation? She must trust in God. Our American system is really the political expression of Christian ideas. It is a nation founded upon the rock of religion and rooted in the love of man.
In 1851 Daniel Webster was reviewing the history of “this great American family”, he reaffirmed the need and role of God in government, “Let the religious element in man’s nature be neglected, let him be influenced by no higher motives than low self-interest and be subjected to no stronger restraint than the limits of civil authority and he becomes the creature of selfish passion or blind fanaticism. On the other hand, the cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licensiontiousness . . . inspires respect for law and order and gives strength to the whole social fabric at the same time that it conducts the human soul upward to the Author of its being.”
Charles Malik, at one time the Ambassador to the United Nations from Lebanon, put it this way, “The good in the United States would never have come into being without the blessing and the power of Jesus Christ . . . I know how embarrassing this matter is to politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, and cynics; but, whatever these honored men think, the irrefutable truth is that the soul of America is at its best and highest Christian.”
The concluding words of our National Anthem summarize the fact that the United States of America was born out of a commitment to God and His principles found in the Bible.
“Blessed with victory and peace, may this Heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our case if 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.”
Jesus Christ died – and rose – to make men free – all men, all nations. Through Christ, we are freed from the wages of sin. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Through Christ, you can be internally and eternally free. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).