Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

July 2, 2012

Proud to be an American

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Perhaps, like many of you, I grew up taking American citizenship for granted.  And I certainly never felt excited about singing the National Anthem.  It was simply a part of our culture.  It was something to sing at school or prior to a sporting event.  But then like many in the armed forces, events occurred in my life that awakened a national patriotism.  Being in another land and railed at by Communists because you are an American, or having to hold your reaction because of anti-American signs or demonstrations, there came those emotions when The Star-Spangled Bannerand the Fourth of July meant something to me.

My sense of heart-felt patriotism started prior to those events however.  It was probably in 1955 when several Olympians defected from the iron curtain.  Our college hosted them.  One evening they shared testimonies about freedom, and then we all sang our National Anthem.  I still can sense the emotion in my heart, and I remember the tears in  my eyes.

Years later, I was on an assignment over the Fourth of July weekend down in some bush country in Costa Rica.  It was a lonely and isolated trip.  I knew in my heart I would rather be with my family.  I had left Judy and the children in San Jose.  They responded to an invitation to celebrate an American Fourth of July at the home of the U.S. Ambassador.  There would be flags, patriotic music, hot dogs, ice cream, and good English conversation.  I recall again the emotions in my heart while I was traveling and knowing that I was missing the event.  But it was more than missing the event.  It was that I truly wanted to celebrate being an American!

I do have emotions when I hear our National Anthem.  I have heard it played and sung in countless places and ways.  It does cause me to remember the blessings I have as an American.  With all that might be wrong with this nation, there is so much that is right!

I will expect a heart response again over the Fourth of July as I hear music and reflect on being an American.  I am thankful we sing the National Anthem at ball games and other experiences.  Perhaps no singing of it has ever touched my heart like the moment when our Jennifer sang it a cappella prior to an Atlanta Braves game.  It was more than being a proud dad that brought tears.  It was the beautiful expression of the words.

But do you know what I wish?  I wish that we would not begin to applaud at the end of the first stanza.  I wish that someone would ask that we remain quiet because the second verse (sometimes printed as the fourth verse), would be sung.  Are you familiar with that stanza?

“O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand between their loved homes and war’s desolation; Blest with victory and peace, may heav’n-rescued land praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;  And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust!’  And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Look again at the words in bold type!  What a witness to our national and spiritual heritage.  Our National Anthem praises God who has made and preserved our nation.  And it cries for us to trust our God!  This should be sung as an act of worship and praise.  I trust that when you celebrate the Fourth of July this year, you will use this significant stanza of our National Anthem.

It is a blessing to be an American!

Lawson

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