As I was growing up, patriotism was not taken lightly in our home. My parents both made sure that each of us understood what it meant to be an American and the cost associated with all that word means. We said the "Pledge of Allegiance" at the beginning of every school day, including high school. We sang "The Star Spangled Banner" proudly, not under our breaths. We stood when the Flag was raised or passed by in a parade, with our hands over our hearts and pride in our eyes. We were told at each opportunity that our freedom was bought at a very high price, each man and woman who laid down their life for that freedom. I love singing patriotic songs. Our church choir presents a patriotic music offering every year. I always believe the current musical is the best, but the truth is all of them are the best. They bring together the two things that are precious to me - my Heavenly Father (who is first in my priorities) and love of my country (which falls after my spouse, children and family). Our pastor spoke about the American cemetery at Normandy as they have just returned from a trip to France. I have never been there but I am certain words are inadequate to express the picture and the emotions of that place. So many young lives given to rid the world of the evil presence trying to dominate the world at that time! In Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world today, soldiers are fighting, not for our freedoms so much, but to allow the people in those areas the same opportunity to enjoy the freedoms we have! Young men and women are still offering their lives for a higher calling, striving to better the world for those who will come after them. Each family touched by the loss of life has also sacrificed as they have supported their loved ones in the choice to serve, knowing they might not come home but believing in the higher calling!
I am proud to be an American! I hope I honor those who serve and have served by continuing to thank them and pray for them.
More than an American, though - I am proud to be a Christian! Hopefully living a life that shines His light for all to see. Jesus also gave the ultimate sacrifice - but His life was not taken from Him. He willingly gave it up so each one of us could say - "I am proud to be a Christian!"