We cannot forget how God permeates the past, present and future of the United States
By Joe Camerata
As a preteen I became more aware of our nation, my family and, to some degree, the concept of patriotism. This awareness came with the understanding that the United States had recently come out of one of the world’s most brutal wars, WWII, which caused the deaths of about 60 million people.
Several years later I noticed the words “In God We Trust” were placed onto all U.S. paper currency by a new law set forth by President Dwight Eisenhower. Then in 1964, the words were also placed on coins.
At some point during the war, my Greek uncle fled the port city of Piraeus, which is about 7.5 miles to the southwest of Athens, due to a series of invasions by Italy and Germany. One clear spring day, German Stuka dive bombers attacked the city, destroying the grocery store where my uncle worked just as he was returning from the market.
He fled to the seaport and was able to join a freighter as a merchant man. The ship headed south towards Crete and then towards Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea. Somewhere north of the Egyptian coast the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Thankfully, my uncle was rescued, having only been wounded in the knee. He recuperated and continued as a merchant man before eventually working on board a ship heading towards New York. Upon entering New York Harbor, he joyfully recognized the Statue of Liberty and said, “I will never leave this place!”
This is one of many stories passed down through the history of our nation. Since the inception of the United States, many people have viewed America as a beacon of hope, a safe haven from the strife and struggles of other nations. On the Statue of Liberty is this well-known quote: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
For generations people have flocked to the shores and borders of the United States. They have entered a country where God has moved men from various walks of life and religious convictions to develop and guide the nation.
God is woven into the very fabric of America
In 1952, President Harry Truman established the National Day of Prayer.
Sometime later I attended a new school named James Otis Junior High School. Fellow classmates at this time were first and second generation Americans. There were also recent arrivals from various distant locations. Some were refugees from camps near Naples, Italy following their escape from war-torn Yugoslavia. We had all grown to love America together. We were proud of it, patriotic and loyal despite any personal differences.
We learned that our school was named after a key but little known player from the founding of the country. James Otis (1725-1783) and many of the founders of America believed in an inalienable right. Otis declared: “There can be no prescription old enough to supersede the Law of Nature and the grant of God Almighty, who has given to all men a natural right to be free, and they have it ordinarily in their power to make themselves so, if they please: (Otis’s Rights of the British Colonies).
We can also read of President George Washington’s first official act on April 30, 1789, “George Washington took office in New York as the first president of the United States. In his inaugural address, he began his duties by giving thanks to the Almighty for the blessings the new country had received during the Revolution and making of the Constitution….”(The American Patriots Almanac pg. 137)
President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address on Saturday, March 4, 1865 is another example of the respect of God during that time period: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
At his farewell address on January 11, 1989, President Ronald Reagan also had this to say, “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life….And how stands the city on this winter night?…After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true to the granite ridge, and her glow has held no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.”
This is reminiscent of the biblical words from Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (English Standard Version throughout). We ought to ask ourselves as a nation, “Do our examples and words lead astray or toward God?” Are we as a city on a hill, a beacon of light and a hope and example for other nations to be led toward the loving God who blessed this nation and the God that we say we trust in?
Do not forget, as many others have, who is ultimately in charge
Americans should remember their heritage and not forget the many examples of the nation’s founders and others who spoke out about the need for a humble people to seek and look to their God for divine providence. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” (Psalms 33:12).
Americans should not forget the blessings afforded our nation. Obey God rather than man, that it may be well for you and your children (Acts 5:29; Deuteronomy 12:28).
Remember that God says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:14-15).
Let us all seek the One who holds all the nations in His hands.