Sweet Land of Liberty
They serve with pride for the woman with the biggest mouth in America. No it’s not Hillary Clinton, or Ann Coulter, or even a Jewish mother-in-law. It’s a woman whose mouth is three feet wide and yet has never uttered a single word. For over a century she has stood as a silent witness to the historic inflow of America’s greatest treasures—its people and their burgeoning dreams. She is Lady Liberty and her message has been loud and clear: “We will not forget that liberty here made her home.”
Liberty however does not come cheap; its price is often blood. Yet it’s an easier price to pay when it is someone else’s son and daughter who makes the ultimate sacrifice. That’s just the way it is. To this date, approximately 5,490 soldiers have died fighting a war on terror; nearly half a million Americans died in WWII and over 100,000 perished in the First World War. And then there are those who weren’t lucky enough to die and who assumed duty with bravery and returned home without legs and arms or were burned, disfigured or blinded in action. Someone else’s kid, they fought for you and me.
Some will say the price is too high to pay. Well, if you don’t believe in American exceptionalism, then maybe it is. Yet, if this country is not great, then why are people trying to sneak in over the border in droves instead of sneaking out? It is because Lady Liberty holds the torch up high for all to see. America is the beacon of light to the world as our values of liberty, freedom, hope and promise and all that we stood for and fell for have illuminated the darkest places of the world. We cannot permit anyone to snuff out that light. If we continue to see liberty’s lamp and cling to faith even and especially through the darkest hours, we can and shall prevail.
In this week’s Bible reading we learn how spies were sent into Israel to scout out the Promised Land and its inhabitants and bring back reports to Moses. There were those who came back and said the land was unconquerable and that it consumes its inhabitants. And then there were others who said, “We shall surely ascend and conquer it, for we surely can do it.” All the spies observed the same reality on the ground--they all saw that the “the land was good, very, very much so” and also that it had challenges. The singular difference between the naysayers and optimists was faith. Caleb and Joshua had faith in God and believed in the land’s “exceptionalism” and that is was worth fighting for--just as this great country is worth fighting for.
As we enjoy the beaches and our BBQs and Memorial Day sales this long weekend, let’s try to appreciate those who serve so that we can walk the leisurely pace of freedom. Remember, “It is the soldier, not the priest, who protects freedom of religion; the soldier, not the journalist, who protects freedom of speech. History teaches that a society that does not value its warriors will be destroyed by a society that does.”
And to those who fell for freedom who have no name and are commemorated by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as we look into the faces of a new generation who had the luxury to take freedoms for granted, your spirit is on their smiling faces, in their laughter, in all their comings and goings. In all the greatness that defines America, may your souls rest knowing that all that you have died for still lives.
Sadly, the day has not yet arrived when we can turn our swords into ploughshares. If anything, circumstance seem to indicate that we will have to turn more ploughshares into swords. But, it is worth the fight for this “land [is] good, very, very much so”—oh, sweet Land of Liberty.
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