I love the 4th of July – the music, the food, the fireworks, the people. I come from a large military family. I enjoy singing patriotic music and tear up whenever I hear Stars and Stripes Forever. I like baseball (soccer) and apple pie. I like the Star-Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. I am a patriot.

I am glad that the 4th falls on a Sunday this year because I want to sing the patriotic songs we don’t usually sing at church. Some are uncomfortable with these hymns wondering if they simply stir up emotionalism and a patriotic fervor. But I think they serve much the same purpose as the Psalms in the Old Testament. Just as the Psalms record History and recount the blessings of God these hymns have preserved for us a piece of history sometimes offering a prayer for our safety and reminding us “In God is Our Trust.”

As I read through these songs, particularly The Star Spangled Banner, I thought about the struggle for freedom, and I considered what was at stake as a young United States again fought against the British to maintain their independence and territory in 1812. I was struck by the fourth verse of the song. I’d forgotten that there were more verses. It really helps tell the story and becomes more than a song that we sing before a sporting event.

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!

Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, “In God is our trust”

And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Freedom is never free. Freedom, wherever it exists, is bought with a price, be it freedom from tyranny, freedom from oppression or freedom from sin.

We enjoy freedom in America today because of the sacrifice of men and women who fought against oppression and injustice in the past. We remain free thanks to those defenders who have sworn to protect our country and uphold the Constitution of the United States giving us a day to enjoy our flag-waving or flag-burning regardless of our conservative, liberal or progressive leanings.

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