We sought, fought, gained, and sustained our nation's independence from Great Britain almost 250 years ago. When reading the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the United States Constitution today, it is clear to see the founders' acknowledgment of and reliance on God for His grace and the protection of the natural laws and rights which He bestowed on us in love. I am thankful for these freedoms and protections, and I fought for them over 30 years on active duty in the U. S. Marine Corps. Our Marine Corps Hymn sings of rights and freedoms, and the need to keep our honor clean. Marines are faithful to our oath, our mission, and our Marines. Our Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, is Latin for "Always Faithful."
As I think of these things on the Fourth of July, our Independence Day, I do so thanking God for being able to depend on His divine guidance, freedom, and protection. I thank God for His natural laws, and His promises, providence, and grace for our great country. I thank God for my country and my salvation.
The phrase “In God We Trust” was first engraved on our nation's coins in 1864 while the nation was embroiled in a terrible civil war. In 1957, as we were coming out of so decades of worldwide wars and facing the new threat of Communism, Congress ordered the phrase to be imprinted on all our paper money. The reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of "My Country ‘tis of Thee" was part of every morning in the public school I attended. I see a parallel between God’s saving grace for those who believe for our personal salvation, and a Christian nation that states “In God We Trust” for our nation's preservation. They are not the same, but they certainly go well together in our case.
Although it seems at times today that our great nation has drifted far away our original founders' ideals and toward an upside-down view of Biblical truth, Fork Union Military Academy has steadfastly maintained its environment of structure and discipline, and still inspires, educates, and develops young men who have respect, integrity, faith, character, and discipline in their body, mind, and spirit. Our experience is similar to a classical Christian education, a mix of some Sparta, some Jerusalem, and All-American! We value each young man’s achievement, and we also recognize hard work—that’s based on earned merit. We inspire through being a Christian, Bible-based and Biblical worldview school, with rules for personal conduct and safety that are unwavering. Freedom is worth the fight and being able have school choice for a classical Christian education environment that’s on a safe campus has great value.
We are a great nation because of our founding, our follow-through, and the faith of our people in our American values. Our national tendency is to win, to be champions and to help those in need of help. We do it with a good heart. We are inspired. "So, help me God”, is the ending phrase of the oath of office for commissioned officers and enlisted in the US Military. It’s a prayer…think about it: “So (therefore), help me (a request/asking/praying), God (Jehovah God).”
I came home from Desert Storm in 1991 victorious in the Gulf War, and as we were awarded medals and marched in parades, we often heard a new song performed by Lee Greenwood. I sang along with it and it remains one of my favorites, because to me it’s true and meaningful.
I pray that God will continue to bless the USA. I am proud to be an American. I’m also proud as a family, school, and country we help others in need around the world with financial aid and life support materials, such as after disasters and to aid in economic development. We spread freedom, we counter oppression, tyranny, and through many organizations we spread the the Good News which is the saving grace of Jesus Christ for those who believe. I believe.
As we go into this year's 4th of July celebrations, I’ve been "looking back in order to look forward" by reading "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," "Decline of Empires," "Graveyard of Empires," and studying the series of five paintings by Thomas Cole titled “The Course of Empire,” and also simply doing a lot of thinking regarding the greatness and freedoms of the USA.
We are on a fault line…standing between going forward and being pulled back in both education and public policy. We face a stark choice as a nation and as individuals. A stairway to heaven through Jesus Christ…or a free fall to the depths of eternal hell with Satan. You have two paths you can take and there’s still time to change the road you are on. Choose wisely…your life depends on it. Be thankful you have the right to choose freely in the USA.
I’m thankful to be on the right side of that fault line, on the stairway to heaven and in the greatest country in the history of the world. Our coins have imprinted the words, "In God We Trust.” And more so, I have those words imprinted in my mind and in my heart.
Those words of the Declaration of Independence were written and published 247 years ago and on July 4th we will celebrate their publication and acknowledge that date as the birthday of our great nation. Happy Birthday, USA!
May God continue to bless the USA. I ask this in the all-powerful and saving name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
Fork Union Military Academy