July 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 12


By Rev. Mark Connolly

Painting of George Washington on a horse while in battleAs we finish the long celebration for the fourth of July, there should be thoughts lingering in our mind about what this day should mean to all of us. It is more than fireworks and barbeques, as wonderful as they might be. It is more than the Boston Pops on the Esplanade. It is more than the hot dog championship at Nathan's in Coney Island. These are tangible reminders of what the fourth of July, the Declaration of Independence, our pledge to the flag are all about. Patriotism is a quality in our country that should be developed by each one of us in a very substantial way. Each one of us is given four freedoms, the right to assemble, the right to worship, the freedom from fear, and freedom from want. There is not a country in the world that has those wonderful four freedoms that we have.

We have a legend handed down to us by men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John Adams and all our founding fathers who risked their lives to make sure that the freedoms we have would never be taken for granted. When you think of the past leaders who have contributed to our country, men like Jefferson and men like Lincoln, we forget what they have handed down to us. Many centuries ago Jesus Christ gave us a principal when he said, "we must render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, we must render to God the things that are God's". Today our leaders and the people who inspire us are not so much the Jefferson's and the Lincoln's from the past, they are the people who, made history on that infamous day that we call 9/11. We have heroes right in our own midst, the firefighters who gave their lives the way Thomas Jefferson did. The policemen lost in 9/11 gave their lives as much as John Adams did. The nurses and the doctors who gave their lives gave as much as did George Washington. They are the heroes of today and the one common factor we have to keep in mind, we have to stop killing our heroes. If you go back before 911 the firemen were vilified for not getting to an area where a fire was blazing. The policemen, all 45,000 of them, were vilified because of an Abner Louima case. If you go back into the life of Thomas Jefferson, all of the books are now talking about the possibility that he had an illegitimate child. If you study all the articles about Abraham Lincoln, they are talking about his tremendous proneness to manic depressive state. Whatever is happening by way of the press, we want to kill heroes. So the fourth of July weekend is a reminder that we have heroes from the past and heroes from our present that give us the four freedoms that can never be taken for granted. There is not a country in the world that does not have people who don't want to come into our country.

They would love to see on the base of the statue of Liberty that beautiful inscription, "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Send these the tempest tossed to me".

If there is one quality that will nullify patriotism it is the quality apathy. If you are apathetic towards God, you are going to have a very tepid relationship with God. If you are apathetic towards your country, you are going to take many of its blessings for granted. When Christ told us to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, he was reminding us of the virtue of patriotism. It is a quality that convinces us not just to make our pledge of allegiance under God, it is a quality that reminds us not to just put our flags out for the fourth of July weekend, patriotism is a quality that reminds us that we leave our country as .Jefferson and Lincoln left it, as our firefighters and policemen have left it, we make that effort to leave this country a better country than we found it.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

- Emma Lazarus