By T.M. Schoewe
The United States will be officially 236 years old this 4th of July. The fourth of July is a clarion call! It is a call for everyone to get off the bench! It is saying “Everyone is in the game!” American citizenship is not just a spectator sport!
America celebrates the 4th by picnicking, fishing, family get-togethers, patriotic observances, shooting off fire crackers and roman candles, etc.
Behind all this observance and activity we need to hear the words of independence that “all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was the basis for the creation of our government (a democratic republic) which was founded and continues to operate not under the direction of a dictator or king, but by we the voters who choose our leaders and the lawmakers called Congress. So the 4th of July should be a celebration where we also dedicate ourselves to our country and that for which it stands: “One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all!”
As a side note, we are surprised by the fact that our American students don’t seem to know much about their country’s history. According to a nationwide test last month many did not know or could not say why Abraham Lincoln was important. Only two percent knew of a case now before the Supreme Court. Some attribute this ignorance on the “no child left behind” curriculum which favored more math and science over history. Some say it’s due to poor teachers and some say it is just that Americans have never known much about their own history. However, with our History channel and the internet, we all ought to know more about our history than even our forefathers did.
Americans that have a pretty good understanding of their history are estimated to be fewer than 20%. That leaves a staggering 80% that do not have an American story and see our American past as just “one damn thing after another.” And this absence of historical knowledge means the loss of our national story and the true spirit that have made this country great. How can we get people to see that our history is an unfolding saga and involves all of us, not just 5th generation Americans?
People who don’t know our American past, especially with respect to our form of government and the basic freedoms we as a people have enjoyed for many years, make not only poor citizens but worse voters or just don’t vote. Those voters without a narrative sense of our past are especially susceptible to politicians who weave law after law that limits our liberties and makes tax paying citizens servants or slaves of Congress, instead of a people whose government serves their best interests. Loss of liberty and debt are not in our best interest!
This 4th of July, indeed every day, let’s pray for our country and government; as the Scriptures teach us, to Him Who sits at the right hand of God; that He continue to keep His finger in the affairs of our nation, to the end that it continues to promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness amongst us and the other nations of the world.
P.S. Just heard John Edstrom passed into eternity! He truly was a citizen energized in the pursuit of happiness and a great model to follow. The country, Minnesota, and especially Winona will miss him. We give thanks for his life among us.