July 4, it has become a holiday when we eat some hot dogs, potato salad, drink a few cool beverages and wait for the annual fireworks that come with the night. But think back to 1776, the excitement, the fear, the unknown of declaring independence from the most powerful nation in the world. Think back 235 years to hot days and long nights in Philadelphia and New York and throughout the colonies. This was a people that had thrived but also suffered under the rule of a King thousands of miles away. A King who thought them second rate British servants who were required to act on behalf of the crown, no questions asked. But the ornery and independent spirit that has for so long defined America was strong and ready for a fight.

We find ourselves over two centuries removed from this declaration and the fight for independence. Here we are in a land of plenty, a land so richly blessed by God that it defies definition. A land so plentiful that its abundance feeds much of the world. Yet we are so far removed from our founding principles and governance that those who were responsible for founding the nation would hardly recognize it. Yes, we still have Philadelphia and New York, Virginia and Boston. We still have an independent streak that runs in the blood and to the bone of many an American. Yet we see within our fellow citizens and many of our leaders a dependence upon others, a dependence upon government and a lack of reliance upon Divine Providence. We see many a free man in our nation enslaved to a government check or government program that is just as burdensome and as demoralizing as being an unfree man. To depend upon anyone or anything other than the blessings of a just God and the abilities with which he has blessed us is to enslave us to other men.

Those who risked their fortunes, families and lives to not only face down a King and his powerful military, but to triumph, deserve more from us. They risked every thing they had, every one they loved and every thing they ever dreamed of for a fleeting chance at freedom. The chances of success were slim, at best. A ragged, rowdy and rough group they were. Some highly educated, some rich, most poor, most commoners who knew little about the trials and tribulations they would eventually face. Nothing but heartache, trouble and pain was their lot. They faced defeat after defeat, and though many fled and deserted the cause, a few, a ragged few, stayed the course. To these few and to those who joined the fight later, we owe a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. We can only imagine, and imagine from the vantage point of comfort and history, the agony and despair these great and mostly unknown men faced.

We have heard and learned about those who led the revolution and those who became commanders that eventually won acclaim on the fields of battle. But the average soldier, who was a farmer, a planter, a blacksmith, storekeeper, barkeep, carpenter or stevedore who fought the battles, we know little of. Yet these were the men who fought, died and made the revolution possible. Yes, without those in command positions, the possibility of victory or even an army could not exist. But those who died, were terribly wounded and disfigured and who suffered the agony and desperation of the valiant effort are those we should celebrate even more. The unknown, the nameless, the man in the shadow, they made the nation possible.

We now look at a nation that is near bankruptcy. A nation that over the course of the last two years has accumulated over three trillion dollars in additional debt with which we are saddling our future generations. A nation that now stands at over 14 trillion dollars in debt, a nation that is involved in two wars against whom Jefferson warned us about two hundred years ago. We are a nation, seemingly adrift, without a true purpose or direction. We have forgotten the one who made the nation we enjoy possible. We have forgotten the Divine Providence to whom Washington and many others who led the revolution so often referred to. We have forgotten that with God, all things are possible. We are a nation depending upon man alone and that is, I believe, why we find ourselves in the situation we are in. Washington and many others gave credit for success of the Revolution to God. We must find our way, we must recognize from whom all blessings flow. It isn’t from Washington or any other capitol or device or institution of man. It is from the hand of a benevolent and loving God. America must find again this direction or she is doomed to be the next addition to the scrap heap of history. Another failed experiment in self-government that forgot her first love.

What have we done with the gift these men and our God have bestowed upon us? Will we recover and reclaim the gift? Will we grab the mantle once again? Or will we continue on the steady decline we face as a nation and as a people? God forbid it. May God bless and keep and strengthen the United States of America and may she stand for what is right and long live upon the earth as a witness to the God of Creation.