“Patriotism should be sought for and will be found in right living, not in high sounding phrases or words. True patriotism is part of the solemn obligation that belongs both to the nation and to the individual and to the home.
“Our nation’s reputation should be guarded as sacredly as our family’s good name. That reputation should be defended by every citizen, and our children should be taught to defend their country’s honor under all circumstances.
“Loyal citizens will probably be the last to complain of the faults and failures of our national administrators. They would rather conceal those evils which exist, and try to persuade themselves that they are only temporary and may and will be in time be corrected.”
I don’t know what the tradition is in your ward or stake, but here in Camarillo we gathered for a flag raising ceremony early in the morning. Hundreds of members from the three wards that meet in our building united to sing and hear patriotic music sung and to listen to short speeches.
The feeling was one of gratitude as we heard the singing of The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The short talks were moving and inspiring, reminding us of the great sacrifices of those who founded this nation so many years ago.
On the program were these words: “This land shall be a land of liberty…and there shall be no kings upon [it]…For I, the Lord, the king of heaven, will be their king, and I will be a light unto them forever, that hear my words…For it is a choice land, saith God…wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me (2 Nephi 10:11,14,19)
True patriots build up their nation
Just as the key to a successful marriage is for both spouses to be first committed to the Lord, the great secret to the successful founding of our nation was faith in Jesus Christ of those who first came here and of those who framed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Besides the flag raising ceremony with the accompanying pancake breakfast and a barbecue with family and friends later in the day, one of the traditions in our family is to watch the production of 1776 the movie. It is always a good reminder to observe the odds they had to overcome.
I know it’s a bit of a fictionalized and romanticized account but it helps to get to know the character of men like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. These men put their all on the line and were considered guilty of treason by the ruling powers of England.
God raised up wise men
President Wilford Woodruff declared that “those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits … [and] were inspired of the Lord.”
As expressed so eloquently by John Adams before the signing of the Declaration, “There’s a Divinity which shapes our ends.” Though mortal eyes and minds cannot fathom the end from the beginning, God does. This nation was founded by men who acknowledged God’s hand in it.
In a previous essay, I wrote that we believe in government. In it I quoted section 134 where it is written that we believe that governments were instituted of God. I wonder if we are the only church that feels this way. We feel the same way about marriage – it was instituted by God.
Summary and Conclusion
Patriotism can be expressed in many ways. For some, it is simply a feeling of enthusiasm and excitement associated with national pride. For others, it involves action – participating in politics and government. But according to modern prophets, the best expression is in right living.
Right living for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consists of obeying the laws of the land. We believe in “obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.” I interpret this to mean that we believe in the rule of law. Most Mormons are model citizens of their nations.
I love this nation. I am so grateful to live in the United States of America. There is a lot wrong with our nation today, but we still enjoy freedoms that were inspired of God by those who wrote our nation’s guiding documents. God bless us as a nation to remember his hand in our founding.
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