When Integrity Made a Nation Great
“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
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.“
-Hebrews 11:13 (NASB)
One day recently, I awakened to discover that my father’s America had died.
Thankfully, he had already left this earth behind and was not here to mourn her passing. Thankfully, he left when she was alive, if not well. Thankfully, he would never know that the color of his skin marked him as inherently evil and a man of privilege in the brave new world that creates reality out of perception. In his America, it was possible for a man to overcome the circumstances of his birth.
As my dad grew up in the Midwest in the 1930’s, he had been repeatedly and systematically abused by a sadistic father. But 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.
My dad came to manhood in the shadow of a name smothered in the shame of his father. He always believed that it was hard work and the grace of God that 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 my father’s 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 that 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 (NASB)