By Dave Brewer
The Story of America is a priceless heritage that at one time was a central feature of every elementary school in the country. We started the day by hearing our teacher read the Bible. Then we stood up, put our hand over our heart, and repeated the Pledge of Allegiance, ending with these words: “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We learned about the Pilgrims who came to this land for religious freedom, and the celebration of the first Thanksgiving became one of the treasured scenes of our history.
Who could forget The
Midnight Ride of Paul Revere in Longfellow’s poem, and “the shot heard around the world” as the Minutemen responded to the call to arms to defend their freedom. The legendary integrity of the Father of our Country George Washington, the terrible suffering from the cold of the Continental Army at Valley Forge, and their valiant night crossing of the ice-capped Delaware River to defeat the enemy on Christmas Day created a proud heritage for all of us.
The Declaration of Independence helped us to understand that America was different than any other country, that our nation was a land of liberty with God-given rights: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
America was a land where immigrants were free from the limitations of their ancestry, race, nationality, or religion that were problematic in Europe. The expanding nation made land available to the masses, education was free, and it became possible for anyone to become successful and achieve the American Dream.
From the American Story came great heroes to emulate, people like Patrick Henry, who said, “Give me liberty or give me death,” and the courageous spy Nathan Hale, whose last words were, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” Dolley Madison emerged as a heroine for young girls when she cut out the painting of George Washington to save it from British soldiers when they burned the White House during the War of 1812. In chorus we sang the song, “This Is My Country, Land That I Love” because we learned about Francis Scott Key writing the Star- Spangled Banner during the bombing of Ft. McHenry. Then when we went out to the park to see fireworks on the Fourth of July with our family, we understood the high cost of freedom.
Who could ever forget the larger than life figure of Abe Lincoln who split rails, loved books, and had legendary honesty. In junior high we had to memorize the immortal Gettysburg Address because Lincoln saved the Union and liberated the slaves. Field trips were taken to the “hallowed ground” of Gettysburg to see where this epic battle was fought to save the Union, and to learn why the American flag is the symbol of freedom, sacrifice, and valor.
As a youngster I strapped on my cap pistols and put on my cowboy hat to watch westerns on Saturday morning television. This very image of a boy dressed up as a cowboy watching westerns was one of the iconic images painted by Norman Rockwell, whose paintings were on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post for decades up until 1963. Rockwell’s paintings portrayed a template of
idealized American life which were “pictures of the heart” that were endearing to millions. His paintings focused on themes about the adventures of childhood: the Boy Scouts, boy-girl romance, snowball fights, friendship, backyard football, swimming holes, the family, summer vacations, fishing, baseball games, etc. They helped us to preserve the traditional values of honesty, respect for authority, fair play, courage, loyalty, patriotism, and the four freedoms of America: freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Because we shared this common template, parents and teachers tried to teach these traditional values and moral principles.
In high school we found out how our grandparents had overcome the Great Depression, and of the “Day of Infamy” when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. We reviewed family albums and saw pictures of grandpa and family relatives who fought the cruel Nazis in France, or had fought in faraway places with names like Bataan, Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima.
And yes, we learned of America’s mistakes too, of the tragedy of slavery, racial discrimination against our Black brothers and sisters, and breaking treaties with the Indians. But the beauty of America is that she admits her sins, and over time seeks to correct her mistakes.
America’s greatness is rooted in her Christian foundations and her Constitution– her Rule of Law. The Founding Fathers in their wisdom studied the past, and they were aware that they were creating a nation unprecedented in history, a novus ordo seclorum, a new order of the ages. They formed a legal document in the Constitution that gave us an objective, impartial standard that would transcend changing cultural opinions. The Bill of Rights guaranteed our freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. The Christian faith gave our citizens the moral conscience to self- regulate and dutifully obey the laws in a free society.
Sadly today, schools have been polluted by the Supreme Court Decision of 1962 which effectively took God out of the classroom. In many schools, Thanksgiving is now called “Turkey Day,” and “Earth Day” is more important than Christmas because many schools no longer allow Christmas carols to be used by school choirs. Secular universities teach that the Founding Fathers were Deists and wealthy slave owners, ignoring that many of them were Christians who risked their lives to give birth to a new nation. Leftist professors teach college students that America is a racist, sexist nation that has exploited the poorer countries of the world. The Constitution is interpreted by liberal activist judges to be a changing “living Constitution” as an excuse to legislate from the bench, because law schools do not teach that the Constitution is a legal document to be guarded. Because of multiculturalism and its emphasis on diversity, immigrants are no longer expected to embrace America’s traditional values, but are to keep their own cultural identity.
As parents, teachers, and Christians, we must do everything we can to safeguard, restore, and teach America’s Story to our children and grandchildren. The American Story is the working of God’s hand
of Providence in the life of the Pilgrims, the Great Awakening, the success of the Continental Army, the survival of the Union in the Civil War, and the genius and moral courage of the Founding Fathers in establishing this great nation. God has raised up America as a “Shining Light on a Hill”- a beacon of freedom to all the world. We have educated foreign students, shared technology with underdeveloped countries, sent missionaries throughout the world, fought wars to protect free nations from evil dictators, and sent billions for disaster relief all over the earth. Psalm 78 says, “What we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from our children, we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power and the wonders he has done. . . Then they will put their trust in God. . . and not be a stubborn and rebellious generation whose hearts are not loyal to God.”
God Bless America!