“My Country and My God!"
Award of Outstanding Merit - $1,000
Doris and her husband Joe are retired Village Missionaries and are alumni of Multnomah Bible College in Portland, OR. After retirement, they started a small church. Still a pastor’s wife, she is and has been teaching Scripture to all ages for over fifty years. After 15 years of writing letters to the editor, she now writes a weekly column for two papers. She has also been published in many magazines. Doris and her husband have four grown children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
I was a child during the Second World War, but I remember the sacrifices Americans made. The bombing of Pearl Harbor shocked and united our nation. Our freedom was at stake. It wasn't taken for granted. Americans willingly accepted rationing, planted Victory Gardens, sent their young men to war, or whatever was needed to keep America free.
My father was a Sea-bee in the Second World War. I remember my mother and grandparents listening to the family radio each night to keep up on the war news. It seemed to me that night after night the radio reported hundreds of American casualties. Practically everyone we knew was praying for the war to end and for our fighting men to come home. America was proud of her soldiers and they were honored. Americans were patriotic and thankful to be Americans. If those in my parent's generation had lost the war to Germany and Japan, I dread to think what would have happened to America!
No one thing shapes the persons we become. We are a blend of many things, but some things naturally are predominate. Being raised by a Godly mother and taught the scriptures at an early age, is what most influenced my values and concepts, also daily news of the war began to make me realize we could lose our freedom. Mother, whose maiden name was Hamilton, told me our ancestor, Alexander Hamilton was one of the signers of the United States Constitution. This sparked my interest in the history of our country.
In the one room country school I attended, we learned songs written as a result of the war. These stirring songs taught patriotism. We also learned the patriotic songs which reflect the history, spirit and tradition of our land.
When I studied history as a teenager, including The Declaration of Independence and our constitution, I realized generations before had fought and died for our freedom during the Revolutionary War. Years later, as a missionary and pastor's wife, when I read where the ideas, values and concepts for The Constitution of the United States came from, my thankfulness to God for being born in this country was magnified, as was my desire to share love of country and of the Lord Jesus with others.
Several years ago I served on a panel to judge essays by Junior High students in a national contest sponsored by "Veterans of Foreign Wars." The topic was, "What Patriotism Means To Me." It was evident; today's young people have not experienced our nation at war. They have no realization of the sacrifices made to ensure our freedom. The possible loss of our freedom is not a reality to them. Although one student quoted the definition of patriotism from a dictionary, not one of the papers I read seemed to indicate the student understood the true meaning of patriotism. The dictionary defines it as, "devoted love, support, and defense of one's country; national loyalty."
Many students related patriotism to sports and winning in the Olympic Games. Several said they would not join the service and give their life for their country, but they would excel in sports for their country. Why do so many of today's youth know nothing of the fierce love and loyalty to God and country which made our nation so great?
One problem is, for many years our history books have been rewritten time and again, each time omitting more of the true history of our country's founding and how our forefathers trusted in and prayed to God. Because of this, many of today's youth, their parents and even grandparents have never realized how blessed by God our country is, how rare and precious our freedom is and the great debt we, who have inherited this freedom, owe to our God and ancestors.
George Washington said: "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." Horace Greeley, founder and editor of the "New York Tribune" said: "It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom." Andrew Jackson said: "That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests." Daniel Webster said: "If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."
If today's students studied the history books of a hundred or more years ago, and read the numerous quotes of our founding father's and others who helped make our country great, I believe these students would become truly patriotic. They would also believe in God, as did our founding fathers. They would say the Pledge of Allegiance with loyal devotion from heartfelt gratitude.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded to teach the history of their nation to each new generation. "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children," (Deuteronomy 6:7). (This referred to history as well as commandments.) This teaching enriched the Israelite's patriotism and faith in God.
If a person reads the true history of our nation, there is no mistaking the hand of God in the founding of our nation. He or she will realize, our freedom as a people, is provided by God through the blood of our ancestors.
My father saw action in the Second World War, my husband in the Korean War (he earned 5 battle stars), and my oldest son served seven years in the Military Police, some of these years were served in the demilitarized zone of Korea. Their lives were not lost, but they could have been. If today's youth come to understand how very blessed we are to be Americans, if they know and appreciate what our freedom cost, their lives will be enriched and our country will benefit.
The Declaration of Independence, which was originally signed by fifty members of Congress, ends with this statement: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." These men knew the risk and had much to lose. Many were wealthy. They were judges, lawyers, doctors, landowners, politicians, farmers and one minister. Signing was an act of treason! The penalty was hanging! These men knew if the British caught them, they would die. The Revolutionary War had been in progress for over a year and a British fleet was anchored in New York Harbor! Because of the stand they took some lost their lives before the war ended, some were imprisoned, lost wives or children, homes, fortunes and/or lands. But--today we enjoy freedom! May we never take it for granted!
The greatest freedom our country gives us is the freedom to read the Bible and to know God. Verses like Acts 16:31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," are responsible, more than any other one thing, for the way I think. To be free from the penalty of my sin is the greatest freedom anyone can ever know. To share this with others and see their lives changed brings unspeakable joy. The priceless gift of living in a free country, where I am at liberty to own and study a Bible has molded and shaped the person I am today. I can never be thankful enough to those who fought and died to give us decolonization and to those, who hundreds of years later, fought and died to preserve our liberty!
The signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Some lost all but their sacred honor. Today, do we even understand the meaning of this? Whether or not we do, "sacred honor" is one of the legacies by which our country is blessed.
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