Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Patriotism is both a word and a sentiment expressed with a great deal of fervor beginning now and continuing through July. We'll see more flags flying over the next few weeks than we may see in all of the rest of the year. For some, the Fourth of July is merely a day for picnics, parades, fireworks, and fun; others see it as a day to honor our military, past and present. Some patriots consider only the acknowledgement of the Revolutionary War heroes' accomplishments worthy of commemoration. I personally think it's all of these. It's an opportunity for parents and leaders to tell the story of our nation from the beginning to the present to our children and grandchildren. It's a great time to contrast the freedoms we experience with the restrictions placed on citizens of many other lands. It's also a time to instill in those growing up in the midst of the negative, fault finding, greedy, valueless sentiments freely expressed in today's society, a knowledge of what is good and right in our country and their obligations as citizens to protect this land and the values expressed in the formation of this great country.

This morning as I took my grandson to school, threw a load of clothes in the washer, and rushed about accomplishing dozens of small tasks, I found myself thinking about the writers who have contributed to my knowledge of the past and the reasons I care so deeply about liberty, freedom, and my country. There are so many whose names I don't even know, but my early years were filled with stories about George Washington, Patrick Henry, Johnny Tremaine, Paul Revere, John Hancock, John Adams, and many more. I read freely about the western expansion, Abraham Lincoln, Davy Crockett, the struggle for racial rights and the abolishment of slavery on through the great wars of the previous century. All had an impact on my life, my identity, and my love for America.

Though I don't know the names of the authors of most of those early books, I do know the names of more recent writers who have strengthened my core belief in liberty and pride in my country, even as they've broadened my understanding of many great wrongs that are also part of our nation's history. David McCullough's 1776 is a masterpiece. Others I recommend are the series written by Ron Carter called Prelude to Glory, L.C. Lewis's Free Men & Dreamers, Am I Not a Man? by Mark L. Shurtleff, Faith of Our Fathers by N.C. Allen, the Children of the Promise series by Dean Hughes, any of Jerry Borrowman's books, and the book I'm currently reading, Escape to Zion by Jean Holbrook Mathews.

There are many other LDS writers who touch on patriotic issues in their writing. A few that come to mind are Chris Stewart in his The Great and Terrible series, Annette Lyon with Band of Sisters, Betsy Brannon Green's Above and Beyond and Hazardous Duty, as well as my own Code Red.


As we approach the Fourth of July and related patriotic observances, I suggest we take time to read something of our nation's past. As we strengthen our knowledge and love for our country, enjoy our freedom with our families, we need to think too, about our obligations to this land which include the following and more: participate in our selection of leaders (This is more than voting in November. Participation in caucuses, mass meetings, and Primary elections is more pathetic each election year, resulting in candidates that represent a tiny minority of the population), thank a soldier, respect our nation's laws, and thank God for making this land possible.



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