Why Bother To Do What is Right?

Why Bother To Do What is Right?

Today is the 4th of July, Independence Day. Americans celebrate this day because it marks the approved resolution which declared U.S. independence from Great Britain with a document entitled the Declaration of Independence. This document was drafted and presented by a committee of five men and approved by the Continental Congress in 1776. 

This grand idea of independence from England was based on a republican model. No longer did the men and women of the thirteen colonies want to be ruled under a monarchy, a political system of unrestrained power of a single person such as a king. 

 Maintaining Independence

George Washington, in his first inaugural address said that the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself hath ordained. 

Though democracy was the foundation for our country’s government, its ideas, standards and beliefs had already been adopted as a way of life for many people. Honesty, integrity, self-discipline, courtesy, courage and patience were some of the character qualities displayed by the men who drafted this revolutionary document. These men understood that liberty and responsible living were inseparable. They understood the rules of order and right and that the continuation of  liberty would be an experiment entrusted into the hands of generations yet to come. The original men who drafted and signed this revolutionary document of freedom may be long gone, but their lives and ideals are still trustworthy examples. 

Because the health of our freedom is reliant on the health of its citizens, decline in moral behaviors inhibit our freedom. Peter Marshall, a Presbyterian preacher who was appointed Chaplain to The Senate in 1947 sums up the idea of maintaining our country’s freedom by living morally. “Freedom is not the right to do as one pleases, but the opportunity to please do what is right.” 

Freedom was a gift granted to all of us, but it is up to all of us to retain this liberty. If our desire is to let freedom continue to ring, how then shall we live? Perhaps we can begin living in a way that does not disregard the eternal rules of order and right and instead begin living lives a little more orderly and right. 

Why bother to do what is right? Doing right gives us the opportunity to prolong the idea living in  liberty. 

Why Bother to Commemorate?

Why Bother To Commemorate?

It is Memorial Day weekend and for many it is a three day weekend as well as the unofficial beginning of summer. So, it is no wonder that our town is filled to the brim with tourists. They stroll along the main avenue window shopping and fill our pubs and restaurants. Our streets are clogged with cars carrying kayaks strapped to their rooftops and campers pulling trailers with four wheelers. In essence, our town is busy. But the pleasures of a fun filled weekend would never be possible without those brave men and women who willingly surrendered their lives on our behalf.

      Memorials

Some time ago, I visited our nation’s capital. Climbing the stairs from the subway, I stood on a busy street corner and paused, overwhelmed with more emotion than I’d anticipated. Washington D.C. is an old city filled with the history of this nation and while there, the events I’d only read about in books, presented themselves in ways more realistic to me than I’d ever imagined.  

I viewed the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights at the National Archives Museum. I stood outside the Ford Theater, where President Lincoln was shot and then looked in at the Petersen House where he’d lain until his death. I visited his memorial at the Washington Mall and gazed at his dignified statue.  

I wandered along the length of the granite wall with the 58,000 names of Vietnam Veterans etched into it and then stood still among the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The statues felt eerily alive. 

Arlington National Cemetery, 600 or more acres, is the resting ground for American warriors dating as far back as the Civil War. Like fields of grain on the prairie, my only view were the rows upon rows of white and gray headstones.  At The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I watched in somber silence as an impeccably dressed soldier walked the 21 precise steps back and forth in front of the tomb. 

Moving freely among these historical markers of our country’s history left me with a humble and grateful heart. Elmer Davis, a news broadcaster, writer and director of war information during the second World War said, “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

Why bother to commemorate? The men and women who bravely surrendered their lives on our behalf are worth remembering. Without them, we would not have the liberty to enjoy the freedom of our three day weekend.

Why Bother To Let Freedom Ring?

Why Bother To Let Freedom Ring?

It is the 4th of July weekend. Tomorrow is Independence Day. It is the official day Americans remember and celebrate how our country came to be the self-governing country that it is. The American Revolutionary War put an end to Britain’s rule over the colonists and America established itself as a democracy, a free country.  

We Have All We Need

My instruction in democracy came from public education. In first grade I learned to stand, place my right hand over my heart and say The Pledge of Allegiance. The words allegiance, indivisible, liberty and justice were not easy to pronounce, and even harder to understand. But after repeating those thirty-one words every day for the twelve years that I attended parochial and public schools, I got the gist of what the American flag stands for. Allegiance, indivisible, liberty and justice are important and powerful words. Words that remind me of the extraordinary qualities of our democracy. 

I am grateful that I have never lived under any other kind of government other than a democratic one. I have read stories of others living under dictatorships, communism and monarchy. Those forms of government pale in comparison to ours. I remember how my fifth grade teacher explained to us that a democracy was a form of government that was by the people and for the people. And a friend of mine has commented more than once that although our government is imperfect, it is better than any of the other ones that are out there. 

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln are pillars of American history. These men set high standards for living. Their way of life represented the philosophy of young America. Washington displayed honesty and integrity. Franklin’s life showed self-discipline and courtesy and Lincoln exemplified moral courage and patience. These men understood their responsibility to live wisely in their freedom. Though imperfect, these U.S. citizens were not intimidated. They lived by a code of decency. They may be long gone, but still stand as trustworthy examples. 

We can’t talk about Independence Day without recalling the Declaration of Independence, the document that states the rights and the philosophy of our country. Who does not know that as citizens we have the freedom to vote or not, to own a gun or not, to practice religion or not, and speak out or not. 

I am grateful for the democracy I live under, and for its extraordinary qualities. As  citizens, we are privileged to enjoy our freedoms. Yet I am pretty sure that the health of our freedom is reliant on the health of its citizens. We already have all that we need to be a free country, but maybe like Washington, Franklin and Lincoln, we ought to consider living wisely in our freedom. 

Why bother to let freedom ring? It is worth it to celebrate the gift of liberty we already possess and to live wisely so that it remains.