The Banner of the Free

Americans share a wonderful heritage. Not a spotless heritage – far from that, and no nation has a spotless heritage – but we have a heritage that is characterized (not flawlessly) by a love of freedom and equality and valor, a heritage that is characterized (not flawlessly) by righting wrongs and administering justice, a history that is marred by the effects of sin but a history that was at least at times exalted by goodness and rightness and fighting for right causes and being an international symbol of liberty and justice for all. IMG_8282.1Our flag is a symbol of those things that America stands for at her core.  Although the colors didn’t have significance at the time of our first flag, the colors became significant when the Great Seal was designed in 1782. White stands for purity and innocence. Red stands for hardiness and valor. Blue stands for vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

Reading the symbolism of our Red, White, and Blue makes my heart ache. What purity and innocence? We are a nation that has the blood of millions of unborn on our hands, where our children are no longer our sacred trust, where young people are not protected from the perversion of our culture. Our culture is waging an out-and-out war against purity and innocence. What hardiness and valor? Yes, we have our occasional heroes, but is our culture as a whole characterized by hardiness and valor? Would the average American today take up arms to protect their families, homes, and churches, to protect those who are weak and suffering, or give their lives for their children? Or have we given that job over to the military and our law enforcement? What vigilance? What perseverance? What justice? We are a nation that is divided by hatred, a nation that is split and fractured by competing interests, a litigious culture depending on a dysfunctional justice system, and a nation that is crushed under the burden of a dead conscience.

And yet, I know it isn’t hopeless. Firstly, because I know my eternal homeland isn’t in America. My security doesn’t depend on America’s rise or fall. My eternal security depends on the grace of a good and loving and just God, a God who could spark a spiritual revival in this nation if He so chose. I know that the church thrives in difficulty, and it is exciting to think that I may live to see a true revival of the church, the beginnings of which we are already seeing. God could work a miracle in this nation, or in the state of South Dakota, like He did with Charles Spurgeon in England in the 1800s. That is an exciting thought! Already we have rising patriots, men and women of the faith who are fighting the good fight.

America! America!

God shed His Grace on thee!

Till selfish gain no longer stain

The banner of the free!

I love the Fourth of July. I love the bustling activity and the fireworks, the family get-togethers, grilling burgers by the lake, spending time with friends. I love to celebrate those things that I know America was founded on. But I can’t help but feel torn. I want to mourn. But I also want to celebrate the greatness that America stood for in her not-so-distant past. I want to remember. It isn’t hopeless. America isn’t gone beyond help. And we still have heroes to celebrate. Hard times may be coming – But those are things that stories are made of.

In spite of my country’s flaws, I love her. In spite of the strife and anger, I love this nation. I love the heritage of greatness. I love the history that is still alive in the hearts of many. I still think the most beautiful flag in the world is our Banner of the Free.

Laura Elizabeth



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