Saturday, July 4, 2009

Opportunity, the Blessing of Independence Day

For food, for raiment,
For life, for opportunity,
For friendship and fellowship,
We thank Thee, O Lord.
(The Philmont Grace)

My four summers on the Philmont Staff bound me to those words forever. The fact that my daughters picked it up at a Staff reunion and now say it at most evening meals gives me further opportunity to reflect on the grace. Philmont, I should add for my non-Scouting readers, is the premier High Adventure camp of the Boy Scout of America, each summer attracting thousands of young men and women for backpacking and unforgettable experiences.

The campers will say these words, many without giving them more thought than other public blessings. But there, in the middle, two phrases after “for raiment” (which I must admit, made many a Scout stop and ask its meaning--clothing), is the definitive blessing of this country and its people: opportunity.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Independence Day—calling it just “the Fourth” seems to miss the point —but sometime during the day (or every day of the year), pause to consider the blessings you have simply by virtue of living in the United States of America.

I am an avid listener and supporter of National Public Radio. One of my favorite NPR traditions is the reading of the Declaration of Independence the morning of July 4th followed by the postscript (I hear Bob Edward’s voice in my head as I type):

“On July 4th, 1776, George III, king of England, wrote in his diary, ‘Nothing of importance happened today.’”

Opportunity happened and is happening still. God Bless America.

1 comment:

  1. George III would have been almost entirely correct even if he lived in Philadelphia on that day. The final draft was approved by a vote that day, but it was not until later that evening that the actual text was printed as a broadside and distributed to the public.

    The first sanctioned public reading took place on the State House Square on July 8th.

    As an applicable public education tool it would serve NPR well as a uninhibited communicator of information to repeat that reading on July 8th.