Current events draw attention to the national anthem, right to expression, and social injustice. Unfortunately not enough attention is drawn to police officers who day in and day out have to operate in an environment where societal calamities are escalating. In the fault-finding these days, I think we have forgotten that it is about the content of our character, not the color of skin. Martin Luther King Jr. was hoping it would be otherwise.
The national anthem has more than one verse. The fourth verse may be the most timely.
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power 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!
[Image is of the American flag viewed in 1814 by Francis Scott Key wrote his poem honoring those who valiantly fought in defense of Fort McHenry.]
Early American patriots freed a few million people from tyrannical governments who ruled Europe. Nineteenth Century American patriots freed nearly four million blacks from an ungodly practice that lasted hundreds and hundreds of years in other countries. Unfortunately, some of our earlier ancestors ignored the atrocity for nearly 80 years. In the past several decades, courageous Americans have freed Europeans and those in the Middle East from blood-thirsty dictators.
Thank goodness so many have, and so many yet will, stand between their loved homes and war’s desolation—and they stand for others. This land of ours has been rescued time and time again. We have been preserved as we show by our actions that we do put our trust in God.
This is something to stand for. This is something to sing for. Unabashedly I suggest audiences at sporting events should sing the fourth verse for a while—either the guest performer or the audience in unison.
Have we forgotten our motto?
George Washington felt many were forgetting in 1789. Here is a snippet from George Washington’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of that year: “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions.”
Lincoln who gave his life to free slaves also felt a strong spiritual inclination that people of his day had dismissed trust in God. As the Civil War depressingly entered its third year, he issued a Proclamation for a National Day of Prayer and Fasting. He eloquently and religiously appealed to the American populace:
“It is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon…. We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
I think Americans should unitedly stand and sing the fourth verse of the National Anthem, and then unitedly take a knee to thank our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ for rescuing us from years of bondage. Let us not be too proud. Kneeling and praying individually, as families, and with friends is a sincere way emphasize our motto: “In God is our trust.”
Excellence never draws attention to self. A hard principle to live by when one walks in the image of his or her own god via cameras, screens, and trendy apps. Pride is exhibited in stirring debate, conflicts, and contention. An unstable person draws attention to himself. An unstable prideful person defiles the liberty of our land. After the Civil War a fifth, but not well known verse was added to the Star Bangled Banner. It may have a stinging rebuke for some.
When our land is illumined with Liberty’s smile,
If a foe from within strike a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that dares to defile
The flag of her stars and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained who our birthright have gained,
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.
I do not dismiss social injustice. However, correcting social injustice should be happening face to face in families, neighborhoods, and police stations—void of cameras and social media. It should be happening heart to heart, not in a realm of self-flattery. Again, excellence never draws attention to self. If it does, well, it would then be about self. The content of this kind of character should be shunned.