I have always been an “All-American” girl. I love America.
I cry every time that US Olympic athletes step to the podium, have a medal placed around their necks and then stand at attention to our national anthem.
My heart swells with patriotic pride when I hear a baseball ump say, “Play Ball” and the crowd roars in anticipation.
I smile with All-American fervor whenever I see an American flag hanging from someone’s front porch.
My eyes well up with emotion when I recall George Washington at Valley Forge, Patrick Henry declaring, “Give me liberty or give me death!” And I picture that old North Boston church.
My heart constricts with zealous joy when I see a little boy salute Old Glory, when I see a red, white and blue ANYTHING, and when I hear the lyrics to “God Bless America!”
But this year on the Fourth of July, I am especially praying for, and weeping with the mothers and fathers who have lost their sons and daughters in service to our great nation.
Who prepares a mother that her little boy, who loved frogs, grilled cheese sandwiches and football will grow up to be a young man who is shot on a battlefield far from home?
What can possibly comfort the heart of a parent who receives a phone call, a telegram or a visit from a high-ranking government official informing them that the little girl, whom they loved more than life itself, will never come home again? Never again.
Today … I am praying for those moms and for those dads.
I am praying for the parents who live in uncertainty … for the moms who wonder if their sons and daughters are safe today.
I am praying for the fathers whose hearts have been ripped out of their chests and merely survive minute by minute knowing that in one horrific instant everything can change.
America means many things to those who live upon its soil. It means the Freedom of Religion … the Freedom of Speech … and the pursuit of happiness.
America is the majestic Grand Canyon, the dependency of Old Faithful and the sun-drenched Gulf Coast.
It is the lazy Mississippi River, the towering Redwood Forest and sunflowers splashed across the Great Plains.
America. The Land of the Free. The Home of the Brave.
I love freedom. I love it so much that it hurts. I love reading my Bible, and owning a home, and boldly giving my opinion on Facebook.
I love preaching the Gospel … and choosing how to educate my children … and fighting for the rights of the unborn.
But do I love America enough to give my son or daughter? Do I value freedom enough to grieve for a child the rest of my life? Do I?
And so, this week-end, while you celebrate with waving flags, cheering at parades and exclaiming at fireworks … I want to ask you to remember and to pray.
While you eat your hot dogs and watermelon … remember the homes that are quiet this Fourth of July because nothing tastes good any more.
While you watch your children splash in the pool and hand out popsicles to the neighborhood kids … pray for the parents whose hearts are empty and who wonder if they will ever smile again.
And when you think about America and all that it means to you … ask yourself what you would be willing to sacrifice to continue to live in freedom.
This year, on the Fourth of July 2014, I am grateful for men like Abe Lincoln who stood up for righteousness and then wept with parents who gave their sons for freedom’s cause.
I am deeply thankful for the heroic leadership of General Eisenhower, Audie Murphy and John F. Kennedy.
But, in my heart, I am praying for parents like Jim and Julie Webb and Scoti Springfield Domeij whose sons, Jeff Webb and Kristoffer Domeij, will never come home again.
I wonder what their homes look like … and sound like … and feel like … this day.
If you have served in the military, I would love to know your name so that I can pray for you.
If you have a son or a daughter or a husband or wife serving in the military, I would love to know their names so that I can pray for them on this Fourth of July.
And, if you have lost someone to Freedom’s Cause, we would love to know so that we can pray for you and salute you.
You can simply leave your name, or the name of the one who is currently serving, in the comment section below. Please let us know what branch of the military you or they serve in.
If you are leaving the name of someone who has died in service to our great nation, please let us know that as well.
God bless you all … and God Bless America.
“O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness, And ev'ry gain divine!”