Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
-Francis Scott Key
One day recently, I awakened to discover my father’s America had died.
Thankfully, he had already left this earth behind and was not here to mourn her passing. He left when she was alive, if not well. He would never know the color of his skin marked him as inherently evil and a man of privilege in a brave new world creating reality out of perception. In his America, it was possible for a man to overcome the circumstances of his birth.
My dad grew up in poverty in the 1930’s repeatedly and systematically abused by a sadistic father. Instead of using the violence perpetrated against him as an excuse to victimize others, Dad understood the injustice of hurting the innocent because he had suffered. He knew that no matter how he had been treated, it was never right to be cruel to others. His own father’s failures challenged him to grow up to be a better man, a kinder human being, the antithesis of his dad. He taught us to treat all men as we would want to be treated.
Dad came to manhood in the shadow of a name smothered in the shame of his father. He always believed his sweet mother, hard work, and the grace of God delivered him from a childhood of poverty and abuse. He worked hard to give us a name we would be proud to wear.
In my father’s America, hard work and the grace of God were honored concepts, and it was integrity that made a nation great.
In his America, it was possible to transcend injustice. Reaching heavenward was encouraged, and godly values were treasured. Age and experience were respected, and the flag was never allowed to touch the ground.
My father proudly served in the United States Navy. When he married and had a family, he worked hard to give us the life he never had. He loved this country and all it stood for. If he were here today to witness the burning of our history, our culture, and our future as a nation, he would weep.
Then he would remind me that this place is not our home, that we are just passing through to a greater land. He would tell me this life is the preparation for the one to come. He would assure me that this, too, shall pass.
Whether or not America survives her current challenges is anyone’s guess. I am grateful to have lived in such a wonderful country.
But today I grieve for this nation, and I am glad that I am just passing through.
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.”
– Hebrews 11:16