photo of Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA

God Bless America; My Home Sweet Home

Independence Day is a day we associate with barbeques, fireworks, friends, family and…God? The last word shouldn’t throw you off.  We often forget how deeply religious the founding fathers were and how large a role their faith in God played in the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the ultimate formation of the United State of America.

Our country was founded on a faith in God that dictates a moral imperative to care for all.  Our founding fathers wasted no time in declaring in that bold document, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”  We must affirm and act on this truth today and every day, with the recognition that this applies to all races, ethnicities, religions, cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.  Whether you are wealthy or poor, in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of our forefathers, you were created equally.  In today’s divisive environment, where we can see the demonization of wealth and success just as easily as we can see the marginalization of those living in need of economic support, this is easy to lose sight of.

There are many great things about this country. I would go so far as to say that we live in the greatest nation in the world.  Why then, does it seem so few are living true to the calling to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”?  Too many of our neighbors have to decide between buying food and buying medicine.  Too many of them have to ask their teenage children to drop out of school to care for younger siblings so they can go to work, due to the high cost of daycare.

These people are more than just statistics, they are real faces with unique stories – they are our brothers, our sisters, and yes, our neighbors.  And while we are all created equally, even the strongest among us may need the help of a neighbor when they fall.

So as you watch the spectacular fireworks and enjoy a barbeque with your family and friends, think about your neighbors who may be down on their luck.  Think about the vision our forefathers had for this country in recognition of their faith in an all-loving God.  Finally, think about the role you can play in ensuring that those among us that aren’t treated equally today, will be treated equally tomorrow.

Consider this: In the end, what really makes this country great is our power as individuals and as a society to make a positive difference, to love our neighbor, and to be their source of hope.

As Kate Smith once sang “God Bless America, My home sweet home.”


Lyrics to “God Bless America”:

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. 

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.