Posts Tagged America


Last week I experienced one of my long term dreams. Carol, Jan and I sat in the amphitheater for the light show at Mt. Rushmore. As the patriotic movie drew to a close the audience began singing softly. “America the Beautiful.” At the end when asked the audience stood and sang our national anthem. I was seated next to an African American. We rose and placed our hats over our hearts. Then as members of the armed services past and present were called to the stage everyone applauded. It was a wonderful experience.

We listened to the stories of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. There was no booing, no ugly remarks, just pride in our collective history. People left laughing and talking with one another. We were one in appreciation for our great country.

God Bless America.

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Independence Day 2014

12989702-waving-usa-flagEvery day of my life I give thanks for being an American. I had nothing to do with where I was born, but I am grateful for this accident of birth. I mean no disrespect for any other country. I was born into a working class family in upstate South Carolina. My parents were the salt of the earth. They worked hard to earn a living and to make a home for my sister and me. They were the kind of people who made this the great country that it is. They believed in the American dream and they instilled that belief in the two of us. They taught us that all honest work is honorable. They taught us to respect ourselves and that all people are God’s children.

My wife was born into poverty in West Virginia. Most would have said that she had no chance for a successful life. A caring public school teacher saw her potential and inspired her to want more for herself. Both of us received good public school educations. Both of us enjoyed wonderful, successful careers and after different paths we found each other later in life. Neither of us could have had the lives we have enjoyed any place else in the world.

I am proud that my country is still striving for that more perfect union. I am proud that we elected an African/American as president, but I will be just as happy when we elect a woman or a Hispanic. I will be even happier when those qualifiers are not even mentioned. Freedom and opportunity still ring from every hilltop and valley

I am thankful that we are free to worship or not to worship as we choose. I salute the flag. I proudly recite The Pledge of Allegiance and my spine tingles with the sounds of our national anthem, America the Beautiful and God Bless America. In the words of the country song, “I am proud to be an American.” My heart aches when our government abandons out time honored values of just treatment of our enemies.

I pray without shame, God bless America. I pray for our leaders and for those who protect us at home and abroad. I pray that we will always be that land that proudly proclaims, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We are a nation of immigrants and our society has profited from the contributions of all those who came.

As we celebrate Independence Day, give thanks for all of those who gave their lives that you and I could enjoy this great land of freedom. Give thanks for those who strive every day to make this a more perfect union. Give thanks for those whose political opinions are different from yours because that means that we are still free to disagree and to express those disagreements. I did not ask anyone’s permission to write or publish this article and there are no guards outside my door. I can read whatever I choose to read and I can travel whenever and wherever I choose without interference. I will spend the day celebrating with my family the blessings we enjoy but too often take for granted. We must learn over and over again it seems that freedom isn’t really free.

On this Independence Day and every day of my life, I am blessed to be an American and I am grateful for the privileges and responsibilities that go with being a good citizen.

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The Rev. Dr. Tom McKibbens Goes Back to the Beginning

 Dr. Tom McKibbens, retired pastor of the First Baptist Church of Worcester, MA has accepted the call as interim pastor at the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island which is the first Baptist church in America. The church was founded by Roger Williams. The church building sits on a hill overlooking the city. It has a tremendous spire and is simply beautiful. In addition to being an outstanding pastor, he is a recognized historian. Tom is a favorite speaker at First Baptist Church of Charleston. He contributed a chapter to my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil world. He and Donna, his wife, are good friends. Donna also retired from her career as a college administrator. What a great match this is to have a Baptist historian serving the First Baptist Church in America.

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Thankful Thursday – Nancy Hamrick

On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the gifts that Nancy Hamrick brings to my life. Nancy is married to Fitzhugh. They are a wonderful couple who bring sunshine into the lives of all who know them. Both are wonderful conversationalists and both enjoy traveling. Nancy is a founding member of the John A. Hamrick Lectureship Committee and has brought many potential speakers to our attention. Nancy wrote Sunday school materials for teenagers for many years. She and Fitzhugh are members at Grace Episcopal Church. Nancy grew up in Greenville and is a Furman graduate and a former trustee. She and Fitzhugh commissioned a duplicate of the lectern at First Baptist Church for the Furman Chapel. Carol Ezell Gilson painted the seal on the lectern. The lectern at FBC is made from wood from the original pulpit destroyed by a cannon ball during the Civil War.  I think Nancy has read everything that is worth reading. Along with everything else, Nancy is one of the most gracious people I know. She was the first one to tell me that in Charleston you can say anything about anyone you want to as long as you add, “Bless her heart.” She has a delightful sense of humor. She is one of those rare individuals that make you feel good just to be around her. On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful that Nancy Hamrick is a part of my life.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone to our lives. Let her or him know of your gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.

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