I remember that scary first day of school with the fears, those fat pencils, the bullies, and even the smell of the school building. But what I remember most is learning the Pledge of Allegiance. Every morning we would say the pledge. I still remember those words. They are instilled within me.
When you're 6 you know little about our nation's history, our system of government or even the price paid for our freedom. That was 34 years ago for me. Now I know quite well the heritage of our nation. I am as saddened as the next person when I see the scourges of our nation. But still, I am proud to be an American. I never consider living anywhere else.
I believe the three ingredients in our nation's greatness are: family, flag and faith. Our family heritage makes us (hopefully) people of character. Our flag reminds us of the price paid for the freedom that millions worldwide would sacrifice all to possess. Religious freedom and faith were among the issues that sparked our break from England. Today a drive through any American town reveals that our faith in God is among our strongest attributes. There are church buildings, synagogues and mosques virtually everywhere.
I enjoy reflecting on Proverbs 14:34. It reads, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but reproach is a disgrace to any people." When people seek the highest good and the right standards of living (family, flag and faith), the nation benefits. However, when shameful conduct dominates our society, we all pay the price.
I believe we do an injustice to God, our family heritage and those who willingly fought and died for our freedom when we do not frequently reflect on the blessings of being an American. The recent Winter Olympics caused a spark of pride in many of us.
I didn't always agree with Archie Bunker. However, he did proudly tout, "America, love it or leave it." Atta-boy Archie! I like that! And how about that (Olympic figure skating gold medalist) Sarah Hughes? God bless America.
The Rev. Tony Guthrie is pastor of Crossbridge Baptist Church in Martinez.
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