Monday, July 2, 2007
Blessed to Live in America--Happy July Fourth!
I'm hokey, and I'm proud.
What's so wrong with sentimentality? Nostalgia? July 4th associations: the early patriots, especially the imposing George Washington, festive neighborhood parades, burgers at picnics, fireworks displays ever more creative and spectacular.
And we appreciate the unique blessings this nation has received. Surely this place has been ordained by God and is sustained by God in a way that only one other on earth has enjoyed. I think that the unique protection and guidance shown the United States is a direct reflection of its founding circumstances and ongoing piety.
Unlike other nations, ours was founded on dedication to God. Protestant Episcopals, Puritans, Lutherans, and Catholics undertook the perilous Atlantic crossing in the 1600s with the purpose of free worship. Each small town across the land boasts one or more steeples on its town square. Not so long ago, "Blue Laws" restricted labor on "The Lord's Day." Prayer in public schools was de rigeur. It is only a distortion of our profound respect for each (atheist) person's view about religion that has meant the end of school prayer and the removal of crosses and Christmas trees. It is this consideration for others' faiths that allows Judaism to flourish in America, (and that now endangers us in our refusal to censure even violent Islam).
Our Constitution does not specify any separation of church and state; to the contrary, the First Amendment, which guarantees several freedoms, sought to prohibit the imposition of a national religion specifically to allow states do choose their own. Freedom in our new land was foremost the ability to practice one's religion unencumbered.
Thus serving God is the basis of America, and to the extent it remains first in importance, our nation remains strong.
I also believe that vast majorities of Americans welcome immigrants, as here, we are all newcomers; no one has more claim to this miraculous land than another.
The fact that this vast continent remained unexplored until just two hundred years ago is another reason for its success. Here, all entrepreneurs have opportunities. Here, invention and creativity are rewarded. Here, education through graduate school is offered to those with promise for free.
We have so many reasons to be grateful--in this breathtakingly beautiful land with so many resources and the intellectual capability to pursue them. This rests in our hearts; as we begin each baseball game with the National Anthem, half the audience chokes back a tear.
Yeah, it's hokey. The family gets together with a few friends and neighbors, puts some Sousa on the i-pod, and grills up the hot dogs to serve with potato salad and watermelon. What could be nicer, and more benign? Fireworks fill the heavens with color, our human imitation of the wonders of Hashem. The summer is young, our nation is young, and we display the youthful expectation that all can be redeemed.
So join me: be hokey and proud. Happy July Fourth! Put that big flag out in front of your house. Join your neighbors in sharing a home-baked pie. And offer a prayer in thanks that we were born and can live in this greatest nation on God's green earth.