July 4th: a day to celebrate the USA, freedom, patriots, and heroes who gave their lives; our history, our heritage.
I love America! I grew up in a patriotic household. My mother’s birthday is July 4th, and she couldn’t be happier sharing her birthday with America. Both of my grandfathers were in the military. I have eight great uncles–all brothers to my special Grandmom Koechig (she was the only girl of nine kids!)–and almost all were involved in the military. I have an ancestor…not sure if it is Uncle Archie or Cousin Archie… who fought in WWI and died from the yellow mustard gas. One of my Grandmom’s brothers was a decorated war hero of WWII–he ended up marrying a German girl whose father was a high-ranking Nazi official, but whose mother was sympathetic to the Americans. Because of his success in WWII, he was a consultant and strategist in the Vietnam War. My Uncle Herb is a Vietnam vet, my own dad was drafted a few short months before the war ended and thankfully never had to go over. We have some reason to believe that we are also related to Stonewall Jackson of the Civil War…but I don’t know for sure!
All that to say…I love this country and I love the history of the real people who sacrificed to make it what it is today. In honor of this past Independence Day weekend, I am reading a book entitled “America” (A Modern Library Original). It is simply a collection of classic writings that “help define the nation,” and I’m including some of my favorite quotes from it here. Don’t worry about borders or health insurance or the economy for a few minutes, and enjoy a glimpse of what made America great. God Bless America.
From the Mayflower Compact (p. 3):
“Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honour of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony…covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body…for our better ordering, and preservation.”
“On the Death of Benjamin Franklin” by Philip Freneau:
“When monarchs tumble to the ground,
Successors easily are found;
But, matchless Franklin! what a few
Can hope to rival such as you.”
I love how Theodore Roosevelt described the end of the American Wilderness:
“By the close of 1883 the last buffalo herd was destroyed. The beaver were trapped out of all the streams…the flood of the incoming whites had risen over the land; tongues of settlement reached from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, and from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific. The frontier had come to an end; it had vanished.”
From Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau:
“This government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the America people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.”
“Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? We should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law (only), so much as for the right.”
“…men serve the state…as machines, with their bodies. Others…serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the Devil…A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the state with their consciences also…and they are commonly treated as enemies by it.”
Now a few of just my favorite general patriotic quotes:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.“
“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.“
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
God Bless America–Land that I love!