Jul 3, 2008

Sweet Freedom's Song

by Kristine John

Independence Day.

It is a day that fills my heart and soul with joy and pride, honor and respect, and remembrance.

I desire to open my heart and pour the feelings I harbor within myself into my children...and yet, I know that it is only through the things I do, and the things I say, and the things that I teach them that they can begin to experience the feelings that I treasure each year as this day arrives.

I remember the Fourth of July celebrations of my youth.

The parade, viewed annually from my great-aunt's home situated conveniently on the main street (West Cleveland in St. Johns, AZ) was one of the highlights of the day.

I distinctly remember my grandmother, and my mother gently teaching me, and then reminding me in years to follow, to honor the flag and those who bore it as it passed.

My hand rested over my heart, and I stood, straight and attentive, as the breeze played the cloth from the flag forward, creating images that are still vivid in my memory today.

I did not know at such a young age that my great-uncle had died in World War II, or that my great-aunt, whose steps and curb I frequented each Fourth, had served as a cook in the United States Navy.

I did not know that my family had given their service and their lives in defense of my very freedom.

That knowledge, even today, swells my heart and brings a lump to my throat.

I am grateful for the sacrifices, large and small that countless numbers of men and women have made, and continue to make, EVEN TODAY, to ensure our freedom.

I love the words to this song:

God Bless The U.S.A.
by Lee Greenwood

If tomorrow all the things were gone,
I’d worked for all my life.
And I had to start again,
with just my children and my wife.

I’d thank my lucky stars,
to be livin here today.
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
and they can’t take that away.

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

From the lakes of Minnesota,
to the hills of Tennessee.
Across the plains of Texas,
From sea to shining sea.

From Detroit down to Houston,
and New York to L.A.
Well there's pride in every American heart,
and its time we stand and say.

That I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

The knowledge we impart to our children, our friends and our neighbors must be strengthened by the assurance that we have been given this land of freedom by a gracious God, who desires that we defend this land of beauty and liberty, not only with righteousness, but also with courage and strength...even in the face of controversy.

I had a hard time singing the final verse to our national anthem on Sunday, simply because I know there are men and women that stand today between their loved homes and war's desolation.

Star Spangled Banner
By Francis Scott Key
O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause 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!

May our trust truly be in God, and may we wave our flag proudly o'er our homes, o'er our hearts, and o'er our families, today and every day.



  1. I love and miss the parades and the celebration in the small towns I grew up in in Montana. Thank you for the lyrics, too! I love those songs. I wish the schools taught more flag etiquette. Happy Fourth!!! Today is my hubby's bday so we really celebrate all day!

  2. I grew up on military bases where the the Fourth was always a time of great reflection. Those who serve today have a distinct comardeship with those who served before, even so much that war diaries from the Revolution are popular reads. It's also special for us personally because the long-awaited son and heir was born on the Fourth on a military base, making him "a real live nephew of his Uncle Sam."

  3. It's easy for me to get that patriotic feeling almost any day of the year, but especially on the 4th of July. I've lived through the Great Depressing, worked for the government during most of World War II, married a man who flew a bomber over Germany, was shot down, spent nearly a year as a prisoner of war, got recalled and served during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and was finally buried with full military honors, including a fly-by, taps and a gun salute. The flag that draped his casket is enshrined on the mantel. Another flies from a tall flagpole in our front yard. I can't sing even the first verse of our national anthem without a catch in my throat, and the verse you quoted brings tears even though my tear ducts have almost dried up. With that other author, I agree: I'm proud to be an American. And I expect to always be.


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