James and I went to our beloved Williamsburg, VA for the long 4th of July weekend this year. One of the wonderful things about Williamsburg is that each time we visit, I am struck by a different facet of our nation’s history. One of the things that really hit me this year is the prevalence of religious faith in our story.
Friday at 12:00, we gathered with a crowd to hear a reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of the courthouse. Before the reading, the man doing the introduction said, “Let us begin with a prayer.” I heard a voice in the crowd remark, quite shocked, “Prayer?” As shocked as he was to hear the mention of public prayer, I was shocked to hear his shock. In my mind, I thought, “Yes, you unfortunate product of secular indoctrination. Prayer was acceptable in 18th century America. It was a part of life. Just wait til you hear the language in the Declaration.”
Later that afternoon we listened to a speech by Patrick Henry, where he informed all of us that he faithfully read the Scriptures twice a day without fail, an hour in the morning and an hour at night. His religion shaped every bit of his politics. Why, he even talked about Thomas Jefferson, and how even though evidence shows him to be a Deist, his faith in a God had a profound influence on his work.
Saturday morning, we took a drive down the Colonial Parkway to Jamestown. I haven’t been since I was a little kid, and James had never been at all. We had so much fun exploring something new together. It felt like our honeymoon all over again.
When we got to Jamestown, there was more evidence of God in our history. Check out this monument:
Religion is part of our history. You can’t erase it. It is so fundamentally embroiled into the fabric of this nation and her people that you cannot re-write the story without it. Our forefathers created a nation on the idea that there IS a God, and that He is the ultimate source of our inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Leading up to the surprise attack, America was in a depression. Europe was unable to pay their debts. Foreign dictators were on the rise. This unprecedented attack launched America into WWII and, eventually, into her Superpower status. Today, 70 years later, it seems we’ve come full circle. Europe is in dept, America is in a depression (even though the official word states otherwise) and foreign dictators are on the rise.
After Pearl Harbor and the revving up of the war machine, America was united in a common ideology. Americans believed that America was the greatest place on earth. Americans believed that America was worth fighting for. In the war’s aftermath, Americans believed that it was their solemn duty to build up America, and re-build war-torn countries. Americans believed that as long as America stood strong, the rest of the world would be taken care of.
Today, few Americans believe in America. Growing up in school in the 90’s and 2000’s, I saw that most kids thought America was the world’s curse. Most people thought Canada and Europe were the civilized regions, and American pride was something of a redneck naiveté. Believing in American greatness is frowned upon. I’m not sure how this happened. Maybe it’s something to do with political correctness. But look where it’s gotten us.
I’m in favor of being polite and treating other countries with respect. But if America is ever going to rise again, her people need to believe in her. We need to believe that America was meant to be the greatest country on earth. We need to have faith in ourselves and in our American heritage. This faith is what brought us through every major struggle we have ever faced, and it will not fail us now.