As I held my youngest son close to my chest this morning during The Veteran’s Day Program at Pinetta Elementary, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The gym echoed as everyone stood to their feet and pledged allegiance to our American flag. Tears welled up as the words flowed, “One nation, under God…” and immediately I thought back to my childhood.
Believing in God was what we did; all of my classmates, all of my teachers, all of my neighbors. In my little mind there was never a question as to whether the great nation of America and the God that I loved could ever be separated. Hand in hand, arm in arm; America and God made total sense.
As I watched all these babies sing such familiar and patriotic songs, I was proud but also convicted. Those kids had no idea how much those words were speaking to the hearts of the adults in the crowd. Most of us know people who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. We’ve heard the stories and relived the heroism through their words. We have been apart of and known a Great America. As the kids sang, “God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with a light from above,” I felt such a great responsibility to teach my children and their peers how great our God is and how great our America can be.
The kindergarten class came out one by one dressed as everyday members of society, all different, but all still American. The words to Alan Jackson’s song rang out across the gym, “Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day?” Immediately I remembered my friend walking into the coffee shop where I worked and she hurried to the tv to show me what was going on. We stood there in disbelief as we watched the towers fall. September 11, 2001 marked a time in history where we joined together as “one nation, under God.” Many of our children were not even alive. This is something that they will only learn about in the history books, but yet, we remember with such clarity. The wars, the battles, the lives that have been lost over the past several hundred years in the name of freedom must not be forgotten or taken lightly.We must teach our children. We must instill in them the devotion and patriotism that our great nation is due. We must teach them that without God, all things will fail and that America needs God now more than ever.
There is such a division that is trying to sneak into our great country and tear it apart. We must not lose heart, but instead train up the next generation to respect themselves and each other, fight for the freedom that our forefathers, soldiers and other patriots fought for, and put God first in all that they do.
One of the other groups sang a song that I had never heard before called American Tears. Tears flowed down the cheek of this American as I thought about this year of political tension and unrest. “Sometimes I think about America, about her struggles through the years, I think of people who did what they had to do, with the strength to act through their fears. Sometimes I think about America, about her future and her past, I know I’m blessed to be living in liberty, in a land where freedom will last. For the heroes, for the patriots, for the soldiers, for all the pioneers. I will always be an American, and I’ll always cry American tears.”
As the emotional roller coaster came to an end this morning, the whole auditorium stood as the students sang, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me, and I’ll gladly stand up, next to you and defend her still today, cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless USA.”
When the National Anthem plays, let us stand. When we pledge allegiance to our flag, let us stand. When we are in the face of persecution, let us stand. When others are giving up, let us stand. When our children are watching, let us stand. When no one else will, let us stand. For what is right. For what is good. For what is just. For what is noble. For our country. And especially for our God.
One Nation. Under God.