Very often, around this time of year, I think back to when I was 16 and at girls camp during the week of the 4th of July. We went to camp at Deer Haven in Cedar City and some of my best and favorite memories come from that campground. This particular year of camp, I was in the group of girls who helped plan the activities for camp that year. Because we were there on the 4th of July we wanted to do something special to celebrate the birth of our country and our freedoms. The idea was presented that we have a Burning of the Flag ceremony for the flag we flew at camp year after year. It was getting old and worn and it needed to be replaced. As we planned and prepared for this retiring of the flag ceremony, I felt a new love for my country and especially for the Founding Fathers. The other girls and I decided that for the ceremony we would dress up in costumes that represented a different country. We wanted to remind everyone that this great country was settled by members of many different nationalities. I will never forget the amazing peace that was present at that ceremony that night. AS the sun was setting, we pledged to the flag on last time, words about the flag were spoken and patriotic songs were sung. We lowered the flag and prepared it to be burned. As we placed that flag into the fire I remember the tears coming as I felt a sweet Spirit and knew that it was no accident that our Founding Fathers created the government the way they did.
Yesterday, as I prepared a lesson to teach my boys a little about why we celebrate the 4th of July, I came across this quote by Wilford Woodruff in an article: “those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits…[and] were inspired of the Lord.” When I was in college I studied the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in my American Lit class along with other works by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. When I read those things in college I could not remember ever reading them in their entirety before. It’s sad to me that the most important documents ever written in the history of our country are not studied more. Abraham Lincoln said, “Let [the Constitution] be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in primers, spelling-books, and in almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it becomes the political religion of the nation.” I think that sometimes it’s good to go back to the beginning of things, to remember what it was that made it so we could be where we are today. Maybe if everyone read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution a little more often things would be just a little bit better.
(you can read the article I read here: http://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/09/the-constitution-a-glorious-standard?lang=eng&query=constitution)