Here we go again!
An elementary school in Massachusetts has made the decision to remove the word “God” from the immensely popular Lee Greenwood song, “God Bless the U.S.A.” The phrase was changed to “We love the U.S.A.” Parents immediately objected to this outrageous move on the part of school officials. The song was to be sung in a school program, but due to the reaction from parents over the change of the wording, the school unwisely chose to cancel the use of the song altogether. The reason given for this decision? The principal says they hope to ”maintain the focus on the original objective of sharing students’ knowledge of the U.S. States, and because of logistics, will not include any songs.”
May I suggest to this principal that if you want to “focus on the original objective of sharing the students’ knowledge of the U.S. States,” then you will have to include God. Read the Mayflower Compact which is the blueprint for the state constitutions of the United States. God is equally acknowledged and revered in virtually every state logo, as well as state constitution. Yet there is an increasingly growing number of folks in the academic arena who are trying their level best to change the history of our nation. Still, if you are doing a history of the various states, you simply cannot leave out the impact of God. Unless, of course, you are intentionally being dishonest in your presentation of the facts.
The following statement was provided by singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood concerning this mishandling of his famous song. “Maybe the school should have asked the parents their thoughts before changing the lyrics to the song. They could have even asked the writer of the song, which I of course would have said you can’t change the lyrics at all or any part of the song. The most important word in the whole piece of music is the word God, which is also in the title, God Bless The USA. We can’t take God out of the song, we can’t take God out of The Pledge of Allegiance, we can’t take God off of the American currency. Let us also remember, the phrase God Bless the USA has a very important meaning for those in the military and their families, as well as new citizens coming to our Country. The song is played at every naturalization ceremony behind The National Anthem. If the song is good enough to be played and performed in its original setting under those circumstances, it surely should be good enough for our children.”
Mr. Greenwood is correct when he says the song, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” has a “very important meaning for those in the military and their families.” I remember well when I was serving as the Command Chaplain on board the USS White Plains. We were on a WestPac (Western Pacific) in December of 1987. We pulled into port on the tiny island of Diego Garcia (D-Gar, for short), situated some 1,200 miles south of India in the center of the Indian Ocean. It was December 23rd, and we were all thinking of home and family, realizing there would be no gathering with families for us this year. Unbeknownst to us, Bob Hope and the USO Show were on the island preparing to perform for us that evening in one of the large storage buildings on the dock next to where we were tied up. It was a special time for us having someone of the stature of Bob Hope, an icon of immense proportions, at that time in his late 80s, bringing the USO Show to little known outposts like D-Gar.
The performance was just as you might have expected. Mr. Hope was very much on top of his game, cracking jokes, and inviting various entertainers and guests onto the make-shift stage. I was seated no more than twenty feet from him. The highlight of the evening, for me at least and I suspect for all of us, was when Lee Greenwood was brought out to perform “God Bless the U.S.A.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. The song epitomized who we were as Americans and why each of us was willing to be thousands of miles away from the ones we loved. We all stood and cheered at the conclusion of the song, high-fiving and backslapping each other. We cheered for America, being made aware once again that the freedoms we have enjoyed for more than 200 years are freedoms provided by a loving and providential God.
So, this school (and others) may continue to remove God from the halls of academia, but God is not so easily removed. He has a way of making his presence known. God has a way of speaking to your heart!
God Bless the U.S.A.!