What does America mean to me? The 4th of July provides a good opportunity for each of us to reflect upon our country.
Modern-day America is definitely not your grandfather or grandmother’s America, but, still, our country strives to follow several principles and ideals that form the backbone of our nation, such as the democratic process, freedom from oppression, and liberty for all.
For me, “America the Beautiful” encapsulates all that is good about our country: its beauty, its patriots, its role as a beacon to the world, and its reliance upon God and the hand of providence in its affairs. Of all the songs we sing this time of year, “America the Beautiful” is the only one that brings tears to my eyes almost every time I sing it. One of my favorite verses in the song is, “America! America! / God mend thine every flaw. / Confirm thy soul in self-control / Thy liberty in law.” That is what we all hope for and I know that is what many are praying for today. I have never been one to say, “My country, right or wrong,” but I do know that what America represents in its purest form is what the world wants and needs. Otherwise, why would so many continue to migrate here, seeking a better life for themselves and their families?
The American flag is another important symbol of our nation and assumes extra significance for us this time of year. Our nation celebrated Flag Day in mid June and is now observing Independence Day. As you watch the American flag flapping in breeze consider for a moment all of those who have sacrificed their lives so that flag can fly freely. It’s truly humbling when you ponder it. “Oh beautiful for heroes proved / In liberating strife. / Who more than self their country loved / And mercy more than life.”
I’ll close with a verse from one of my favorite alternative national anthems, “National Holiday” by husband and wife duo Timbuk 3, who had a big hit, “The Future’s So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades).” back in the 1980s: “So let’s all sing the national anthem / Free the hostages, pay the ransom / Raise the flag, lower the taxes / Ban the bomb, bury the hatchet.” It’s a great song to listen to (visit YouTube) on the 4th of July, when our dreams of an ideal America seem not so very far away. “And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea.”