By Gregory P.
I had the honor of being in attendance at the Marine Corps’ 238th Birthday Celebration at the Conference Center in Boston. Over two thousand Marines, former and active duty, were present along with spouses, children and close friends. I was on very sacred ground. The Commandant of the Marine Corps presided. There were four Medal of Honor recipients present along with families of native sons and daughters who lost their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan. All received standing ovations as they were identified.
For the closing ceremony, twelve recruits were brought in front of the head table and sworn in by General Amos, the Commandant of the Marine Corps. As he prepared them to receive the Oath of Allegiance, he said something along these lines:
“We are the only country in the world that swears an oath to a piece of paper – not to a president, king, queen or general. We swear an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States; a piece of paper that was written by inspired men and which has been the foundation of the greatest country that has ever inhabited the earth. We have defended freedom wherever it has been threatened, and asked nothing except a small plot of land to bury our dead. You are here because you want to be a part of the heritage that has created the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. When you take this oath you are promising that you are willing to give your life to protect that piece of paper. Now, raise your hand and repeat after me: I [say your name], do solemnly swear, to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies foreign and domestic and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same….. so help me God.”
It was an emotional moment. I remembered when my father swore me in and the feelings that came over me as I said “so help me God.” I didn’t know what lay ahead, but I knew that God would be there and that He wanted this country to be protected.
I have always believed that this country is special – that it is unique in the history of the world. North America is the only piece of real estate in the world that hasn’t been ruled directly by a monarch or a dictator. I have stood in the room at Montpelier where James Madison drafted the new Constitution of the United States. He was able to read five languages and went through almost 350 books on governance in all those languages as he pondered the best way to create the new republic that would be known as the United States of America. I believe that God put James Madison there specifically to do that. I believe God’s hand has been in the creation of this country from the beginning. Why is that? Why are we so blessed as to get this kind of attention from the Creator of the Universe?
In 1830 a man named Joseph Smith published a book called the Book of Mormon. He had translated this book from golden plates buried in a hill near his home. It is an account of the former inhabitants of this continent and covers a period of one thousand years. It is considered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to be scripture written by ancient prophets. When I read it the first time, it resonated completely with my feelings about my country. When I read the verses that specifically mentioned the special role this country will play in his plan for all of His children I knew that it was true. Let me share just two of them and see if they resonate with you.
Speaking of the American continent, Mormon says:
For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fullness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.
Behold, this is a choice land and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written (Ether 2:10-11).
I have always believed what these verses reveal. Being in the military, I have traveled all over the world. I have never found the kind of freedom that we enjoy anywhere else on the planet. If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be in the United States. But I know that if we turn our back on God, He will stop protecting us and we will be on our own.
“So help me, God” – it is our Heavenly Father that protects this land. That is why it is blessed. That is why we are free. But this freedom has come at a price. Hundreds of thousands of men and women like those recruits have sworn an oath to that God that protects this land. It has cost the blood of those hundreds of thousands of men and women who are willing to give their lives that keeps this land free.
And so on Monday, November 12, we will honor those that have fought for this country – both living and dead. May the God that broods over this nation take those veterans that have passed away into His bosom, may He bless the lives of the veterans that still walk among us and may He watch over those Americans that are in harm’s way and bring them safely home to their loved ones.
And may we all pray that God will continue to bless America. I believe and testify that if we will do that – pray to Him – He will continue to bless America.