The dictionary defines patriotism as: “an intense devotion to one’s country.” The Fourth of July is a day to remember and celebrate the fact we are blessed to live in a great country. America isn’t perfect, but it is home.
Our president was elected with his message about “making America great again.” Practically, what would “great” look like today? Here are a few answers to that question from some past patriots:
- “If our country is worth dying for in time of war let us resolve that it is truly worth living for in time of peace.” Hamilton Fish was the sixteenth governor of New York and supported Abraham Lincoln for president. Later he served in the senate under presidents Grant and Hayes. He gave his life in service to our country, but had you ever heard his name? Patriots like Hamilton Fish aren’t remembered in our history classes, but maybe they should be. If Mr. Fish was interviewed today I think he would remind us to live with the same intense devotion to our country today that we felt for it on September 12th, 2001.
- You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” I doubt Erma Bombeck will be well remembered a few decades from now, but I’ve read almost everything she has ever written. She had a popular syndicated column that I always looked for in the newspaper. She wrote several best-selling books, and she loved her country. She used humor to speak wisdom. She made people laugh, and she made people think. I think Erma Bombeck would tell us to look at our picnics, our beaches, our parks, and our backyards this July fourth, and be grateful we have the freedom to enjoy our blessings.
- “We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.” Robert J. McCracken was born in Scotland and became a Christian in a Baptist revival. He eventually became a popular pastor in the United States and was involved in desegregating the church in the 1960s. Reverend McCracken would remind all of us that our country was founded by people who defined liberty in terms of their ability to worship. Our deepest roots in this country were established by Christians. The men who crafted our Constitution and Bill of Rights used many of the same principles that God instructed Moses to teach the exiles. The highest liberation available is found in the salvation of Christ who makes us truly free.
You probably didn’t learn about Hamilton Fish, Erma Bombeck, and Robert McCracken in your high school history classes. I only knew one of these names before I typed this blog post. But each of these people were important to the culture and history of our country. Each were patriots who had an intense devotion to their country. Most patriots will not be remembered in history books, but God will know and recognize each of them.
We are blessed to call America “home.” I hope we will all celebrate the Fourth of July with joy, remembering the liberties we have been provided. I also hope each of us will use our freedom to invest in making this country “great again.”
America is my home, but only temporarily. I want to be a good citizen while here but remember that my true citizenship is in heaven. I’ll close with a favorite quote from C. S. Lewis: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.” This is a great country but let’s reserve our “intense devotion” for God. A great “patriot” for heaven will be a great patriot for America. Your name may never appear in a history book, but your life will be part of American history. If you are a Christian your name will appear in God’s book of life, and you will be part of heaven’s eternal story. If we aim at heaven, we can make America “great again.”
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
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