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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

– Declaration of Independence

These are the words that started it all. It was a bold declaration, one that would cost many lives but would eventually give birth to an entirely new way of life and of living for many.

The founding fathers who signed their names to this foundational document were far from perfect. Their motives were not always pure; their actions did not always align with their beliefs; some were more sinner than saint. But their stated ideals—ideals they were willing to fight for, to die for . . . ideals they believed in more than they believed in their own comforts or stability, that they valued above their desire for normalcy or their commitment to tradition—these ideals, rooted in the Laws of Nature and of God, were sound. They formed a bedrock upon which the United States of America could be built. A bedrock that holds to this day, nearly two and a half centuries later.

American patriotism has fallen out of favor in recent years. Many consider it passé or even blasphemous to celebrate this nation we call home. As reasons for their dissent, anti-patriots point to the hypocrisy of our leaders and founders, to brokenness in our systems, to misguided beliefs about American superiority, or to injustices carried out under the banner of the American flag.

The detractors are not all wrong: our nation is not without blame, and even the best of our leaders have fallen far short of perfection. But I refuse to let their glaring shortcomings negate my love for America and all that it stands for.

Before you start giving me the side-eye for espousing “Christian nationalist” beliefs, let me be clear: my loyalty is to the Lord above all. My love for country falls far below my love for Creator. I am a Christian before I am an American, a follower of Jesus more than follower of nation. My trust is in God, not politicians or founding fathers or historical documents.

That said, I do love my country of birth. I grieve its shortcomings, but I am not afraid to celebrate its victories and values and virtues. I will continue to proudly wave my American flag, to teach my children about America’s heroes, and to light a sparkler in America’s honor each Fourth of July.

I believe in the America imagined by our forefathers, and I continue to pledge my allegiance to this Republic under God. I feel honored to be an American citizen, and blessed to call the United States of America my home. Not my permanent home, of course; I still long for Heaven and its eternal fulfillment of the ideals to which our earthly nations can only aspire. As a temporary residence, though, The United States of America is a great place to be. God bless America, this land that I love. And HBD, USA!

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