Happy Independence Day! This is a special day for Americans. First and foremost we remember with gratitude today the price that those who went before us paid so that we might enjoy the freedoms we have. There are, however, other things to be thankful for as well. I, for one, am thankful for the incredible natural beauty God has blessed this nation with. Of course, others have been grateful for this too.
In the song “America the Beautiful” the writer, Katherine Lee Bates, speaks of spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, and fruited plains. After mentioning these she cannot help but declare, “God shed His grace on thee.” Samuel Francis Smith, the writer of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” likewise spoke with gratitude about the beauty of our land when he wrote, “I love thy rocks and rills, thy woods and templed hills…”
I have been blessed to visit and photograph many of our country’s natural wonders and on this Fourth of July I find myself giving thanks for what we have. I also find myself concerned that we not take these natural treasures for granted and that they be preserved for future generations to enjoy. I believe it is our patriotic duty to make sure that places like the Everglades (one of the most endangered places in the world) and the Smokies (pictured above) are protected.
Katherine Lee Bates was right, God did, in fact, shed His grace on this country by giving us so much natural beauty and resources. One of my seminary professors used to say “with blessing comes responsibility.” Yes, we have been blessed. The question remains, will we also be responsible?