On this 238th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America, I'd like to share with you a wonderful concept that I came across that might make this day more memorable to you. I found this concept in Dennis Prager's excellent book Still The Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values To Triumph. I'll let Dennis describe this in his own words:
...one day, in the most routine of actions— emptying my pockets— I discovered what generations of Americans used to know, but did not successfully pass on to my or even to my parents’ generation. On every American coin were inscribed the three primary values of America—“ Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “E Pluribus Unum.” Those three values make up the value system I have come to call the American Trinity. No other society or nation has identified those three values as its core values...Prager, Dennis (2012-04-24). Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (Kindle Locations 4686-4692). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.Let's look at these three American concepts one-by-one:
1. Liberty - Here are some interesting facts that Dennis shares in his book:
- The United States was the world’s first free country.
- It was the country that most inspired other countries to be free.
- It is the country that has been free the longest
- It is the country that has most protected other free countries.
- It is the country that has most spread freedom to other countries. This is all because the United States was founded on the value of liberty.
- More people from more countries have immigrated to America in order to be free than to the rest of the world’s countries put together.
- More black Africans have immigrated to the United States voluntarily— looking for freedom and opportunity— than came to the United States involuntarily as slaves.
- And no country has ever the felt the obligation to spread liberty elsewhere as has America. People differ as to whether this is always— or ever— a good idea. But it is indisputable that this has been an animating American idea. It animated Americans to die in the liberation of Europe in two world wars. It animated Americans to die to keep half of the Korean peninsula from falling under the rule of Communist totalitarians. It animated Americans to die trying to keep half of Vietnam from falling under Communist totalitarians. It animated America to fly food into West Berlin in order to break the Soviet blockade of a free city located in the midst of totalitarian East Germany. It animated America to intervene on behalf of Muslims in Kosovo and to aid Muslims in Afghanistan.
Prager, Dennis (2012-04-24). Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (pp. 312-313). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.2. In God We Trust - It is indisputable that America was founded on biblical principles and was created to be a nation animated by religious thought. You can read a number of quotes from America's Founding Fathers here that should make this undeniable. As a small sampling, here are quotes from two of our founders who also happened to be the first two presidents of the United States:
John Adams, one of the most influential of the Founding Fathers and second president of the United States, wrote in a letter to officers of a Massachusetts militia, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people . It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” And on another occasion, he said, “Religion was the only thing that could tame our savage natures.” http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_adams.html
- George Washington, in his Farewell Address in 1796 made this point abundantly clear: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…. Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.” Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, the authors of the Federalist Papers, all helped Washington write this address. (Prager, Dennis (2012-04-24). Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (p. 324). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.) He would later state: "It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being.(http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgewash564172.html)
Our Judeo-Christian roots were indispensable in giving our free country a moral framework that made democracy work. Dennis Prager shares this thought concerning the founding of our country on religious principles:
What the Founders did regarding God and liberty was as unique as it was brilliant: they substituted God (and moral religion) for a powerful secular or religious state and they tied liberty to God. Thomas Kidd summarized Alexis de Tocqueville, the great nineteenth-century French observer of America, on this matter: “The partnership of religion and liberty lay at the heart of America’s political success …. Freedom by itself would inexorably degenerate into rabid selfishness, but religion nurtured the purposefulness of freedom.” Prager, Dennis (2012-04-24). Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (p. 323). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
3. E Pluribus Unum - Unfortunately, I suspect that most school-age children (and even adults!) have no idea what this important American phrase actually means. E Pluribus Unum is a Latin saying translated "From many, one." Although it original referred to the thirteen colonies being united as one, it has come to mean something much more. To be American is not to be of one particular ethnicity. You can be of European, African, Asian, Latin American or other descent and be an American. Whether your descendants came over on the Mayflower four hundred years ago, or whether your parents came from India last year, it makes no difference. If you embrace American values, you are American!
Dennis Prager includes the following quote in his book:
The other day, I was in a small company— and there were Asians, Koreans, Middle Easterners, some other people. And they had been in America for, like, two, three, four years. And they talk American. They look American. Body language is American. I’m sure they already think American. Go to Korea and become Korean in one or two years’ time. Good luck with that. That’s so special about this country. —Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia, February 2, 2012, FoxNews
I am so thankful to God that I am an American! With all the problems that we are facing (and they are many) and with the great decline in American values in the last few years, it is easy to forget that we still live in the freest, most prosperous, and most God-centered country in the world. On this July 4th, let's celebrate these great values!
Here's a couple of links you might enjoy:
This is a video by Dennis Prager (you might get the idea I like this guy!) about a new 4th of July ritual based on "The American Trinity" concepts he outlined in his book. It's worth doing this year with your family (or if it is too late for this year, then you might want to plan on it for next year.)
Here's a link to a video of one of my favorite new patriotic songs...
"In God We Still Trust" by Diamond Rio