Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What is a Patriot?

A patriot is any individual who loves his country and is devoted to the best that it has to offer the world.

Mention the word patriot and any number of names come to mind: George Washington – the Father of our Country; Thomas Jefferson – the author of our Declaration of Independence; Benjamin Franklin – the sage who through wisdom and wit helped guide this new nation in the early days; and Patrick Henry – speaking the immortal words, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” The list of notable patriots is endless.

But what of patriots who are not as well known? How about Betsy Ross? You remember that she was commissioned to sew the first American flag. What of Crispus Attucks? He was the first person killed which ignited the American Revolution. He was a runaway slave who was shot and killed by British soldiers on March 5, 1770 in what became known as, “the Boston Massacre.”

What about Sarah Franklin Bache? This daughter of Ben Franklin, called Sally, hardly rates a footnote in history. Yet she and the “Ladies Association of Philadelphia” worked diligently to raise money for General George Washington and his Continental Army. Sally took over this organization in 1780 and was responsible for raising in excess of three hundred thousand dollars for the war effort. No small effort even by today’s standards!

There’s another patriot by the name of Molly Pitcher. She was what was known as a “camp follower.” Typically these were the wives and children of soldiers, trudging along behind the army offering their assistance by washing clothes, cooking meals, rummaging through dead bodies after a battle to recover useful items for a desperately needy American Army, and any other needed jobs that would keep them close to their husbands. Molly Pitcher’s husband was a cannoneer, killed in battle. Realizing the gun crew was left short-handed, Molly rolled up her sleeves and helped man the gun, which helped turn back the enemy assault which won the battle.

Perhaps my favorite story is of Johnny Clem of Civil War fame. Johnny left his home in Ohio in 1861 to join up with the 3rd Ohio Regiment, but was refused. He then attempted to enlist with the 22nd Michigan that was passing through. Again he was refused. Not to be denied, Johnny became a camp follower, doing the odd jobs necessary for camp life. He eventually became a favorite of the men and even was paid $13.00 a month out of the officer’s mess. He fought in many battles, receiving several wounds. At the end of the war he stayed in the Army, eventually retiring as a major-general (two stars) in 1916. What makes this story about Johnny Clem so interesting to me is that when he left home in 1861 to join the Army – he was nine years old!

A patriot therefore must be ever diligent in seeing that their country is presented to the world in the best possible light. Let me clarify what I mean. Proverbs 14:34 states emphatically that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” A true patriot loves righteousness and hates sin.

As a Christian and a patriot, what should be my responsibilities?

Allow me to offer some suggestions that I believe are fully supported by Scripture.

1. Always speak the truth – even when it hurts! It’s rarely popular to be a voice of reason in troubled times. But I believe history and all of heaven look favorably upon those who stand for righteousness and call sin, sin.

2. Never give up the fight for godliness and holiness! It is a truth that God honors those who honor him. Make every effort to be his disciple, his ambassador, in pointing folks to salvation in Jesus.

3. Live the two greatest commandments: Love God, and love your neighbor! Make this your life goal. Jesus says you are light and salt in the world. By living like this you cause others to glorify God.

4. Pray! God will hear from heaven and heal our land. Lord knows we need it!

You may not think of yourself as a Patrick Henry, or a George Washington, but these men were patriots who were also Christians. They were above reproach and God honored them. God still honors those who honor him. Ours is a nation worth fighting for.

God bless America! Happy 232nd Birthday!

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