Happy Birthday to the United States of America!
Yesterday we attended church in the hometown of Tips' great-grandfather and where his own grandfather spent his summers as a boy. Then this morning we watched the Fourth of July parade in Mount Pleasant, Utah. It is definitely a 'small town' USA type of parade - but almost every parade entrant throws candy out to the spectators - so it is a LOT more enjoyable for little kids than the Freedom Festival Parade in Provo, Utah (Provo hosts the Fourth of July Parade and Salt Lake City hosts the Pioneer Day Parade on 24 July - so both parades are equally huge!). It is also a much shorter parade so we were done after an hour. Next year we'll be in my hometown for the Fourth of July - which is somewhere in between the Mt. Pleasant Parade and the Provo Parade.
Enough of future plans for the Fourth of July! I need to get going on sharing my thoughts and feelings about this hallowed day in which I celebrate the freedom my ancestors fought for in liberating the 13 colonies from British rule. Ironically, I am going to share two paragraphs concerning Patriotism by C.S. Lewis as found in his book, The Four Loves, pages 27-28. 'Ironically' because C.S. Lewis had a great love for his nation, England which my country won its independence from 235 years ago. :D
Finally we reach the stage where patriotism in its demonic form unconsciously denies itself. Chesteron picked on two lines from Kipling as the perfect example. It was unfair to Kipling, who knew - wonderfully, for so homeless a man - what the love of home can mean. But the lines, in isolation, can be taken to sum up the thing. They run:
If England was what England seems
'Ow quick we'd drop 'er. But she ain't!
Love never spoke that way. It is like loving your children only "if they're good," your wife only while she keeps her looks, your husband only so long as he is famous and successful. "No man," said one of the Greeks, "loves his city because it is great, but because it is his." A man who really loves his country will love her in her ruin and degeneration - "England, with all thy faults, I love thee still," She will be to him "a poor thing but mine own." He may think her good and great, when she is not, because he loves her; the delusion is up to a point pardonable. But Kipling's soldier reverses it; he loves her because he thinks her good and great - loves her on her merits. She is a fine going concern and it gratifies his pride to be in it. How if she ceased to be such? the answer is plainly given: " 'Ow quick we'd drop 'er." When the ship begins to sink he will leave her. Thus that kind of patriotism which sets off with the greatest swagger of drums and banners actually sets off on the road that can lead to Vichy. And this is a phenomenon which will meet us again. When the natural loves become lawless they do not merely do harm to other loves; they themselves cease to be the loves they were - to be loves at all.
A friend of mine is a dual Canadian-US citizen. She was born in the States but grew up in Canada. After her marriage, she and her husband (also a dual Canadian-US citizen) moved down here to Utah. She wondered a few months ago why there is so much patriotism for the US when our government is a mess with scandals and corruption and no real progress being made to actually FIX our nations myriad of problems. She said, "What is there to be proud of?"
Having been born and raised in the heart of America by very patriotic parents who are well-read on the history of our nation as well as an understanding of God's hand in the founding of our nation, I told her, "I am not proud of what the United States presently is, but I am proud of the Founding Fathers and the men and women who sacrificed, some even their very lives, to ensure future generations all the blessings that accompany living in a free nation. I am deeply grateful for their foresight and for the hand of God in guiding their drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America - for it was only in a free nation such as this that God could restore his Gospel in its entirety through the Prophet Joseph Smith." As a fellow Mormon, she understood my point.
While reading the words of C.S. Lewis today, it really struck home. I love the United States of America because it is mine. It is my home, my heritage and my children's future. It is my hope that my efforts will ensure that future generations will have the same freedoms I enjoy. I am deeply indebted to all the armed forces and their families throughout its history that have sacrificed so much to ensure that America remained a free nation.
I will end now with the Pledge of Allegiance which I first learned as a 5 year old in public school kindergarten and which we will begin teaching Tips Jr. tonight as part of our weekly home evening:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.