Sunday, July 12, 2009
Once again I'm posting a talk that I gave in church. It's a pretty intense talk, but it seemed like lots of people liked it! It would be a good talk to read if you have the time, enjoy! (And P.S. readers, I'm sorry I haven't written in my blog for so long! I need to work on that!)
When I was asked by Brother Wood to give a talk on the girls' camp theme, "Be Patriotic," I wasn't all that surprised. I gave a thought or two last Sunday in relief society about being grateful for our country, and I guess that the fact that my dad, being a sergeant major in the military, also helped contribute to my being here today (in more than one way.)
But, I don't mind talking to you today; being patriotic should be an important part in all of our lives. I looked up the word "Patriotic" in a rather large dictionary, and it explained that the adjective "patriotic" is a word that describes the characteristic of having devotion to one's country. But the similar word, "patriot" is a noun, a living person, who isn't just a feeling, but a person like you and me. A patriot is "one who loves his country and zealously guards its welfare;especially a defender of liberty." Over 900,000 known men and women have died as soldiers for our sake over the lifespan of America, they are a symbol of bravery, and their many tombstones remind us that freedom isn't free.
It's easy to declare how patriotic we are, but it's a lot more difficult to be an actual patriot; a patriot that's willing to defend our country from those that would want to steal our freedom. Patriots don't have to be brave soldiers like my dad and so many others, we can all be patriotic by simply and bravely being grateful for the liberties we've been given, holding our standards and morals high, and by doing the best we can with the wonderful opportunity that we've been given by being born in a free country.
I'd like to share a quick poem with you, written by Joanna Fuchs.
On the Fourth of July, I raised the flag,
As I spoke with love and pride;
"I'm blessed to be an American," I said,
To two friends who stood by my side.
One was my neighbor, who lives next door,
He's a citizen, like me.
The other, a visitor from a hard oppressed land,
Far across the Sea.
"My flag stays in its box this year,"
Said my neighbor, boiling mad.
"The terrible shape this country's in,
The future looks nothing but bad."
"Taxes, scandal, indifference and crime,
On our land like a giant stain."
My visitor said, "We have all that and worse,
But it's against the law to complain."
My neighbor looked startled, but not subdued;
Then he started on the Press:
"There's nothing but bad news; the headlines are bleak."
(It gets me down too, I confess.)
"Our news is all good," said my visitor.
"It's just how you'd like it to be.
We know what our government wants us to know;
Our press is controlled, you see."
My neighbor spun 'round and marched toward his house.
And here is the end to my story:
The next time we saw him, he was out in his yard,
Proudly raising Old Glory.
Just like the grumpy old neighbor said, there IS lots of bad news out there, and sometimes it looks like our country's future IS bleak. Social security is going down the drain, and there's still lots of crime.
But, in Africa, nearly six thousand people die every day from AIDS, and hardly any of them get proper treatment; while in America, we complain if the doctor's office is too busy to see us for a few hours.In the Middle East, women have to wear a veil at all times, and aren't allowed to drive; sometimes we complain that the prophet advises us not to wear tank tops, and sixteen years seems too long to wait to be able to drive or date.Over in mainland China, there are over 1.3 billion people, they can get punished by the government if they get caught reading the Bible in public; in America, we have the opportunity to pray or read the Bible and the Book of Mormon how we want, whenever we want, and wherever we want, but how often do we?
We have so many opportunities here, we can do just about whatever we feel like, just because we can or want to. Yet, sometimes it's all too easy to complain that we have it bad, and that our government isn't all that great, and every other little thing; even though we are still free, and free enough to complain.
I have a testimony, and a strong belief that everyone here is truly blessed and loved by Heavenly Father, I hope that all of you will look for and be grateful for all the blessings that you have by being an American, and recognize the importance of being patriotic, no matter what the world's opinion of our country is.