But our nation did overcome that stain on our history and later overcame the Jim Crow laws and many other struggles, financial, military, etc. It was not only because we set our aim high on such transcendent values as are found in the Declaration of Independence, but primarily because we set our sights on God for our help and for the source of our guidance in all things. Although the motto “In God We Trust” was only approved as the official United States motto in July 1956, the use of this motto on coinage dates back to the Civil War and its use on our coinage was urged by popular demand for a way to honor the God that the majority of Americans worshipped. Moreover, for most of our nation’s history, we have been an inherently Christian people. Our founding fathers and mothers, who fought courageously against overwhelming odds, suffering deprivation and loss of loved ones in the Revolutionary War, nonetheless defeated the most powerful military power on the face of the earth at the time. What gave them such courage and resolve to achieve this unthinkable feat? They were all products of the Great Awakening, three or four great waves of revival and increasing religious fervor, that swept across the population of the colonies and the early states in the 18th and 19th centuries.
It seemed as if God were preparing the population for the great struggles ahead of them. And there were tremendous struggles. Certainly, there were the early victories of Lexington and Concord that sparked the Revolution and gave people of the colonies courage and hope to face off against their mother country, the great, rich, military power, the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Moreover, the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775 encouraged the fledgling independence movement. But despite these early successes, the entire year of 1776, the year in which our founders signed the Declaration of Independence, was a very hard year for the young American Army and their relatively inexperienced general, George Washington. There were a series of defeats that only seemed to turn when Washington and his troops surprised the enemy at Trenton, New Jersey, crossing the Delaware River on the evening of December 25th, catching the British and Hessian troops at Trenton completely by surprise, delivering the first decisive victory of the year to the Americans. There were still challenges to follow in 1777, though they did not seem as dire as what the Army faced during the year of 1776. Additionally, there was a brutal winter spent at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78, but against all odds, the American Army emerged from that winter hardened and well-trained thanks to the efforts of Baron Von Steuben.
On this day when we celebrate the independence of our nation, we should never forget the struggles that have gone before us to ensure freedom for all of our people. Like all nations, we have had our challenges and our failures, yet our country has emerged as one of the greatest nations in the history of the world, not because we were a better people than others, but because we followed a Great and Amazing God. So let us be thankful on this day for the blessings of freedom and the success against all odds that Our God has granted us in these 237 years of liberty.