July 4, 2020

The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

[This is an excerpt from a speech by President Ronald Reagan on Independence Day 1986. You can find the entire speech here.]

“It’s recorded that shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia celebrations took place throughout the land, and many of the former Colonists — they were just starting to call themselves Americans — set off cannons and marched in fife and drum parades.

“What a contrast with the sober scene that had taken place a short time earlier in Independence Hall. Fifty-six men came forward to sign the parchment. It was noted at the time that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. And that was more than rhetoric; each of those men knew the penalty for high treason to the Crown. ‘We must all hang together,’ Benjamin Franklin said, ‘or, assuredly, we will all hang separately.’ And John Hancock, it is said, wrote his signature in large script so King George could see it without his spectacles. They were brave. They stayed brave through all the bloodshed of the coming years. Their courage created a nation built on a universal claim to human dignity, on the proposition that every man, woman, and child had a right to a future of freedom.

“For just a moment, let us listen to the words again: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’ It is a hope that someday every people and every nation of the world will know the blessings of liberty.

“And it’s the hope of millions all around the world. In the last few years, I’ve spoken at Westminster to the mother of Parliaments; at Versailles, where French kings and world leaders have made war and peace. I’ve been to the Vatican in Rome, the Imperial Palace in Japan, and the ancient city of Beijing. I’ve seen the beaches of Normandy and stood again with those boys of Pointe du Hoc, who long ago scaled those heights.

“And I’ve seen the successors to these brave men, the young Americans in uniform all over the world, young Americans like you here tonight who man the mighty U.S.S. Kennedy and the Iowa and other ships of the line. I can assure you, you out there who are listening, that these young are like their fathers and their grandfathers, just as willing, just as brave. And we can be just as proud. But our prayer tonight is that the call for their courage will never come. And that it’s important for us, too, to be brave; not so much the bravery of the battlefield, I mean the bravery of brotherhood.” 

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7; ESV)

Give Him 15 minutes in prayer:

  • Worship the Lord today over this free nation. May we never take that freedom for granted.
  • Thank God for the brave young men and women who fought for our initial freedom and those who have helped us remain free.
  • Where you feel afraid, take the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God – to the root of it. God’s people are not to succumb to fear. We are to lead people out of fear and to Christ.
  • Declare the beginning of the Declaration of Independence into America, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

A prayer you can pray:

God, we worship You as Lord over America. We exalt Your holy and magnificent Name and plan. We thank You for Your eternal covenant and Your goodness, which has no end. Our nation was founded on godly principles bought with a great price. We say that we shall not throw away what has been gained at such a great cost. The blood of our founders, together with so many thousands of soldiers mix together on battlefields across the globe and cry out for the freedom they fought and died for. We say we shall not treat their sacrifice lightly. 

Lord, forgive any fear we feel right now. It is so human to be afraid when our life’s circumstances are so unusual. It’s hard to know how to navigate all the news reports and things we see on a daily basis. However, we have put our entire hope and trust in You. You are our savior, healer, deliverer, and the anchor for our souls. Your grace is sufficient for us, Jesus. We look to You for the way forward. We humble ourselves and pray. We decree over the nation the wise words of our founders, based on Your truth, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” We commit to treat one another with respect and understanding, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Today’s decree:

America is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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