I love my country and I honor her today. I am grateful to be an American.
The miracle of America was the triumph of individual rights over the rights of the state. This was a revolutionary idea, an experiment that had not been tried to this degree in the history of the world, that gave dignity to the individual and asserted rights and freedoms and the gift to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
Some of these rights were enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, which was accepted by the Continental Congress 245 years ago today. Representatives of the citizens of the then thirteen colonies united their voices and pens to create and sign one of the most important documents in the history of the world.
If you haven’t recently read the Declaration of Independence, you can do so here or listen to Max McLean read it here. It will only take 10 minutes and will be worth every second you invest. I listened to it with tears today.
We are striving for “a more perfect union,” as we always have and always will, but we are far from the ideal. Yes, we see corruption in our elected officials, in endless and unjustified wars, in corporations, in the medical-pharmaceutical industrial complex, and in churches, but the heart of America—”We the People”—remain fixed on Lincoln’s promise of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”
I pledge my allegiance to our amazing country because of the God-given principles upon which we as citizens rest. May God bless this and every country in the world that we may flourish and enjoy the blessings of true freedom until Christ’s return.
It was 1963, 57 years ago today. I had just turned 6. It was a Friday morning and I was home from kindergarten. I remember my mother screaming from her bedroom. I had never heard my mother scream before or since. I ran to the door of her room. President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas.
For days, the only thing on our four television channels was news of the assassination. All these years later, it’s hard to believe my parents allowed me to watch this nightmare played over and over again. I can still remember sitting in front of our black-and-white TV watching Lee Harvey Oswald wince as he was shot by the mobster Jack Ruby.
Even as a young child, I knew something was not right with this series of events. Something seemed fake about the whole thing. I couldn’t express it in words and I even have a hard time doing it now. But after thinking about it for nearly six decades, it seems like more of a coup d’état or secret combination than an assassination.
By the time I reached my late teens, I discovered for the first time these words in the Book of Mormon. Moroni, the last writer in the book, was recounting the fall of a civilization which he laid at the feet of sin, pride, and murderous conspiracies:
Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. (Ether 8:24.)
“This Nation Won’t Fail”
Given the condition of our nation right now, I’m grateful that a former missionary companion and friend sent me this Harold B Lee quote the other day. We have reason to hope.
Men may fail in this country, earthquakes may come, seas may heave beyond their bounds, there may be great drought, disaster, and hardship, but this nation, founded on principles laid down by men whom God raised up, will never fail. This is the cradle of humanity, where life on this earth began in the Garden of Eden. This is the place of the new Jerusalem. This is the place that the Lord said is favored above all other nations in all the world. This is the place where the Savior will come to His temple. This is the favored land in all the world. Yes, I repeat, men may fail, but this nation won’t fail. I have faith in America; you and I must have faith in America, if we understand the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are living in a day when we must pay heed to these challenges. I plead with you not to preach pessimism. Preach that this is the greatest country in all the world. This is the favored land. This is the land of our forefathers. It is the nation that will stand despite whatever trials or crises it may yet have to pass through. (Ye Are the Light of the World [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974] 350–51.)
It seems our country has been shrouded by a pall ever since that dark day in November 1963. There are too many unreconciled independent facts for me to not be suspicious of what happened then and what is happening now in the United States. There are too many contradictions and too many threats of violence. There is too much obvious propaganda and too much censorship. There must be something rotten in Washington, D.C.
It’s time we waken to our awful situation. The media is biased and unreliable. The current election, according to many independent sources and witnesses, appears to be fraught with manipulation, irregularities, broken laws, and broken trust.
What and who are we supposed to believe?
I’ll wait for proof before I claim to have it, but I’m paying keen attention to evidence of mass corruption. Until we have proof, I’ll trust God. I’ll trust the heaven-inspired Constitution of the United States. I’ll trust in and cherish the sovereign, individual rights guaranteed by that constitution.
May God bless President John F. Kennedy. May he rest in peace. And may God bless and preserve this great nation.
The prophets have testified that the United States will hold together, but it may look different after God is done with it.
I believe in America. But I’m braced for the political earthquake that is about to shock this nation and shake her to the core.
Finally, my [sisters and] brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Ephesians 6:10–18).
I love the United States of America. My country, your country, our country—the country that enshrined true freedom in the soul of the world.
She is not without flaws. We are painfully aware of her sins, misdeeds, and even atrocities—but that does not wipe out the goodness of her people, or the billions of gracious things her citizens have done for their fellow citizens around the world. She is the best thing that freedom loving people have ever had going for them on this planet.
I stand with her. I believe in her. I always have and always will. May God bless and forgive her, today and forever.
Please enjoy this new recording of “God Bless the USA” featuring Lee Greenwood, the Singing Sergeants, and Home Free. Recorded in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Nashville on June 30, 2020. Lyrics below. From the YouTube channel George.
I cannot listen to this recording without crying.
If tomorrow all my things were gone, I’d worked for all my life. And I had to start again, With just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars, To be livin’ here today. Where the flag still stands for freedom, And they can’t take that away.
And I’m proud to be an American, Where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, Who gave that right to me. And I gladly stand up, Next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.
From the lakes of Minnesota, To the hills of Tennessee. Across the plains of Texas, From sea to shining sea.
From Detroit down to Houston, And New York to L.A. Well there’s pride in every American heart, And its time we stand and say.
That I’m proud to be an American, Where at least I know I’m free. And I wont forget the men who died, Who gave that right to me. And I gladly stand up, Next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. — Declaration of Independence
Every time I read the Declaration of Independence, I am amazed at how inspiring it feels to read it. To think the principal author, Thomas Jefferson, was only 33 years old at the time! I can’t help but believe that there was a Force greater than human intelligence at work on this almost sacred text. Few documents have had a greater impact on the destiny of this world than this one that was pounded out in the summer swelter of 1776.
It only takes about 10 minutes to read the Declaration of Independence. You can read it online here on the National Archives site, or you can get a copy on Kindle by clicking here ($0.99). The paperback price is set so low that I don’t get royalties for it. (If you buy the paperback, you’ll also get the Kindle version for free.) You can also watch, read, or listen for free here:
(By the way, you can also sign the Declaration of Independence yourself, here.)
I believe in the agency of man, in the independence and sovereignty of nations, in freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of action. I believe America is a choice land to those who reverence the God of this land who is Jesus Christ. If we worship false gods—and there are many, many opportunities for us to do so—we cannot long enjoy the freedom and independence that we have come to take for granted.
There are many political voices in America now, hailing from the right and left. There are those who cry against “hate” with hate in their hearts. There are conspiracies and rumors of conspiracies, crimes of reason and rumors of treason, rumors of betrayal on a an unbelievable scale that is difficult to grasp or accept.
Instead of looking to the right or left, may I suggest that we look up, look up to that God who created us, that God who knows the hearts and designs of all women and men? He knows the way. He will show you the way if you ask Him and really mean it. He can deliver us from the turmoil and the confusion, but only if we look up and reach up to Him who is our Eternal God, our Deliverer, and our Savior.
So, rise up, patriot! Look to God and live. Through faith in Him we can conquer all enemies, within and without. We can even conquer our first and most notorious enemy, ourselves. When we do that with His help, no other enemy can stand before us.
In honor of the Fourth of July, I offer a few quotes.
“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” —Patrick Henry
“On what basis can we morally resist tyranny? I say to you with all the fervor of my soul that God intended men to be free. Rebellion against tyranny is a righteous cause. It is an enormous evil for any man to be enslaved to any system contrary to his own will. For that reason men, 200 years ago, pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. No nation which has kept the commandments of God has ever perished, but I say to you that once freedom is lost, only blood—human blood—will win it back.” —Ezra Taft Benson
“[That you might live] according to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles. . . . And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” —D&C 101:80
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” —Nelson Mandela
“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” —Thomas Jefferson
“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.” —John Stuart Mill
“God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.” —Daniel Webster
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” —Abraham Lincoln
“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” —James Madison
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” —George Orwell
“With respect to the words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.” –James Madison
“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.” —Adlai Stevenson
“Where Liberty dwells, there is my country.” —Benjamin Franklin