As I approach the end of another Independence Day, I wish to focus on some positives of our celebration today. I first want to remind my readers that it is Independence Day, not the Fourth of July. When we speak of the nickname for this date, we speak of a number on the calendar. When we use the true name of the holiday, we are reminded of why we celebrate today.
When the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and introduced to the colonists on July 4, 1776, freedom and liberty were just ideas. George Washington and the colonial army fought for eight years and suffered great trials to make our nation independent from Great Britain. We owe all of them our greatest love and respect, and we can show our gratitude for their sacrifices by calling this day by its true name.
A second positive that I would like to mention is the great miracle that George Washington and his rag tag army – with the help of France and Spain – won a war against the greatest military in the world at that time. General Washington and most of the colonists understood that they were supported and assisted by God in winning that war. This war and victory were foreseen by an ancient American prophet named Nephi. (See 1 Nephi 13:16-19.)
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.
17 And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.
18 And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.
19 And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.
There are numerous experiences that show God was assisting the colonials, such as the weather and fog that assisted the Americans in their escape from certain death and/or capture in New York City.
The third positive of our celebration concerns the flag of the United States of America and the national anthem. The first flag for our new nation was created early in the Revolutionary War, Although the flag has always had thirteen alternating stripes of red and white and a field of blue with stars, there have been numerous changes in the stars. The first flag had thirteen stars representing the thirteen colonies. The current flag was created after Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states in 1959. A flag is an important symbol for a nation, as shown by this scripture from the Nephite nation in ancient America. (See Alma 46:12-13, 19.)
12 And it came to pass that he [Captain Moroni] rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it – In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children – and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.
13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land….
19 And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written upon the rest part….
As Captain Moroni went forth waving his standard of liberty, “the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins” to join in fighting for the liberty of their nation. This same thing happened with George Washington as he went forth to fight the British. One of the reasons why the American army was able to defeat the British army is because Americans kept coming to join the fight while the number of British soldiers continued to dwindle.
Even though our national anthem was not written until the War of 1812 and adopted much later as our anthem, it is powerful. The fact that it is called our national anthem means that it is for all Americans regardless of race, creed, nationality, or length of citizenship. If we are to be one nation, we must unite under one flag and one national anthem.
I am grateful for the opportunity each year to celebrate Independence Day and to commemorate the sacrifices made by millions of people over the past 244 years who fought and sacrificed that I might have freedom. I join with millions of other people in praying for our great nation and for the protection and preservation of our American way of life.