L'Abri Journals...ACGray

July 4, 2002
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Freedom Is Not Free...

Chalet LAbri @ Massanutten, July 4, 2002 

a page from my journal...acg

On my last visit to James Monroe's home Montpelier, only a short distance from where I now live, I copied these words from an exhibit in the foyer, appropriate on this our nation's 226th birthday: Office of the New York Courier-Enquirer, New York, New York. July 4, 1831 James Monroe is no more. He died this day, at half past three oclock -- he was gathered to his forefathers on the day sacred to American Independence -- the day on which the patriots Adams and Jefferson breathed their last. It cannot be considered a singular occurrence that Divine Providence should set its seal on the hallowed efforts of our revolutionary fathers in favour of liberty by calling from this world three Presidents of the United States, and three patriots, on the very day they had pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor in the cause of Independence. James Monroe was a soldier and a patriot. Peace to his ashes. Glory to his name.

          In commemorating this 4th of July, I recovered these facts from my archives: "In God We Trust" is our national motto. (36 United States Code, Section 186). The motto has been on our coins since 1863. Our Pledge of Allegiance cites one nation under God, though a misguided judge recently ruled it was unconstitutional. An inscription on the Liberty Bell cites Leviticus 25:10, a Biblical proclamation of Liberty given by God to Moses. A portrait of Moses with the Ten Commandments hangs above the Speaker's chair in the United States Congress. (But this is illegal in our public schools and municipal government buildings, by decree of the Supreme Court.) The Library of Congress (another government institution) has statues of the apostle Paul and Moses, and it has large inscriptions of Micah 6:8 and Psalm 19:1 prominently displayed. The Lincoln Memorial has chiseled on it, "Judgments of the Lord are righteous." (Government Property) The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is dedicated to a soldier "Known but to God." The Supreme Court Session opens with the words, "God save the United States and this honorable court." They do this publicly, not privately. The United States Constitution refers to Jesus, stating the Constitution was signed in 1787 AD, "in the year of our Lord." (The whole world adopted the birth of Jesus for purposes of numbering the years). The United States Government has mandated "National Day of Prayer."(36 United States Code, Section 169 [H]. Christmas is a United States Government Holiday. I am also thinking today about the acres of crosses at Arlington, Normandy, Luxembourg, Ardennes, Honolulu, Manila and countless other places, the graves of men and women who have given their lives in the cause of freedom. Many of them I have seen myself in distant places of the world. It is a sobering reminder that Freedom is not free. Nor indeed was the foundation of our Christian faith here in our beloved country.

          I am also pondering another Crossthe one that once stood at Calvary. Marvelously, no such cross anywhere marks the grave of Christ Jesus because He rose from the dead. But here and there around the globe I have seen inscribed on crosses the Latin, In Hoc Signo In This Sign, proclaiming the faith of the person there interred of the Resurrection. In 1913 George Bennard, in one of the great hymns of the Christian faith, wrote this deeply felt refrain which I claim for myself; Amy Grant sings it beautifully and soulfully: So Ill cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh 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 every gain divine! Katherine Lee Bates, 1893

"Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." -Adlai E. Stevenson, Jr.