It’s Independence Day. Growing up, my family would play classical music and sometimes patriotic music during dinnertime. It was my introduction to probably some of the greatest recorded music of all time: Beethoven to Gershwin, etc.
One of my favorite records was Robert Shaw Chorale’s 1991 Battle Cry of Freedom. Battle Hymn of the Republic is from an entirely different American era. Listen to it::
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
It was once a part of our national culture to mingle the secular and religious. Battle Hymn of the Republic—it says it all in its name.
Every generation invests itself in the sort of America it believes should exist. At one time that meant cultivating what was basically a culturally Christian nation. Nothing like a theocratic nation; instead something far more meaningful. A place where faith was a part of the fabric of life, rather than a constellation of rules grafted atop it.
What remains consistent since the founding is a respect for Constitutional liberty for the citizen, and Constitutional restraint on government excess.
These twin pillars allow each generation to forge its own American identity, and this is what makes Independence Day meaningful for me.