During the week, we were reading King Benjamin’s discourse to the Nephites, (and to us) when we came upon his saying, “…God has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.” (link)
This is a significant idea, apparently, because this point was made in the Book of Mormon around a billion times. (No, I did not count to verify this number.)
This time through, I was reminded that the the Book of Mormon represents God’s thousand year attempt to bless and preserve a chosen people in a chosen land – which ended in abject failure. Thankfully, we got a hugely important book out of what was a disaster.
A thousand years is a long time to try and honor God’s desire to protect and honor this land. The USA has been at it now for 243 years now, and things are a bit of a mess. I think everyone on all sides of the political spectrum could agree on that, but I have no desire to talk politics.
I would rather talk about heroes and what motivates them: From the Book of Mormon, we know that Captain Moroni rallied his people by reminding them that they needed to fight when he created the Title of Liberty. His purpose? “And it came to pass that he 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.” (link)
We now find ourselves in a Nation that has grown increasing secular, as religious belief, commitment and affiliation shrivel, and are scoffed at by those who think patriotism is some sort of “problem.”
Many would no longer rally to fight for God, our religion, our freedom, our peace and our families. Patriotism is falling out of style. Last year Gallup released polling data that in 2018 less than 47% of the people polled consider themselves “extremely proud to be American.” Back in 2003 that number was 70%. In 2001, it was 87%.
I believe that this was, and still is, a chosen land. The United States was established with God’s assistance and approval. In His words:
“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” (D&C 101:77–80.)
The Founders also knew that God was pulling the strings. President N. Eldon Tanner put it this way:
“No constitution on earth has endured longer than this one. We seek, and usually find, the answers to today’s questions in this document of yesterday. It was and is a miracle. Both Washington and Madison referred to it as such. It is an inspired document written under the guidance of the Lord. James Madison, commonly called the father of the Constitution, recognized this inspiration and gave the credit to “the guardianship and guidance of the Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising republic.” (link)
Why am I getting into this? Because tomorrow is Memorial Day. It is a day set aside to honor those who gave their lives for our Nation. It is a day that should fill our hearts with gratitude and humility. Yet, somehow, it has become a day where we tend to fill our hearts with BBQ, corn on the cob and watermelon, and forget about why we are able to do so.
President Monson described our Veterans as such: “When we ponder that vast throng who have died honorably defending home and hearth, we contemplate those immortal words, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The feelings of heartfelt gratitude for the supreme sacrifice made by so many cannot be confined to a Memorial Day, a military parade, or a decorated grave.” (link)
Tomorrow, I would ask that everyone put down their politics, and gather together in honor and gratitude for those men and women who sacrificed their LIVES to protect this chosen Nation. It is not merely an issue of patriotism, it is a demonstration of faith in what God set in motion generations ago.
Surely we can do that for one day?
Personally, I want to thank the families of those who have lost loved ones in the ongoing effort to emulate Captain Moroni’s quest to protect this chosen land. The battle is not merely with other countries and enemies, it is with the adversary as well. I can imagine that he would be thrilled if we went down the same path that led to the obliteration of the Nephites.
May we not let their memory die, nor be tainted by those who would think they are anything but noble.
“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” James A. Garfield
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Joseph Campbell