Monday, July 4, 2016

Gordon B. Hinckley on the importance of patriotism

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1961. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1981-1995, then as Church President until his death in 2008.
"Patriotism evidently is gone from the hearts of many of our youth.
"Perhaps this condition comes of lack of knowledge, a provincialism that knows nothing else and scoffs at what little it knows. Perhaps it comes of ingratitude. This attitude is not new. Joshua, speaking for the Lord, doubtless had in mind this same indifference when he said to a new generation that had not known the trials of the old: '...I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat' (Josh. 24:13).
"Those who have paid in toil and tears for their inheritance have loved the land on which they lived....
"We shall not build love of country by taking away from our youth the principles which made us strong—thrift, initiative, self-reliance, and an overriding sense of duty to God and to man.
"A terrible price has been paid by those who have gone before us, this that we might have the blessings of liberty and peace. I stood not long ago at Valley Forge, where George Washington and his ragged army spent the winter of 1776. As I did so, I thought of a scene from Maxwell Anderson's play in which Washington looks on a little group of his soldiers, shoveling the cold earth over a dead comrade, and says grimly, 'This liberty will look easy by and by when nobody dies to get it.'
"How we need to kindle in the hearts of youth an old-fashioned love of country and a reverence for the land of their birth. But we shall not do it with tawdry political maneuvering and enormous handouts for which nothing is given in return.
"Love of country is born of nobler stuff—of the challenge of struggle that makes precious the prize that's earned."
- Gordon B. Hinckley, "A Charter for Youth," Conference Report, October 1965, pp. 50-54
Click here to read the full talk

What a sad commentary: "Patriotism evidently is gone from the hearts of many of our youth." Is it a lack of knowledge, or a lack of appreciation? Is it because life and liberty have become too easy for us, and we have not had to pay in "toil and tears for [our] inheritance"?

It is helpful to remember the "terrible price" paid by so many who went before, to secure for us "the blessings of liberty and peace." That will help to rekindle patriotism in our hearts and lives.

And in a time when many forces, internal and external, are threatening the security of our peaceful land, true patriotism is needed more than ever before.

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