I was asked to write a "patriotic" article for an upcoming LDS-NHA publication. It is supposed to be 500-700 words in length, but of course I couldn't help myself and I wrote more, about twice as more as they wanted. I really, really hate butchering my articles, but I had to for the publication but I really liked the article I originally wrote. Here is that article, the long one:
By Doreen Blanding
Norman Rockwell painted a set of paintings called the
He painted these in 1943 in the midst of World War II. Our brave young men, who are now our great-grandfathers, were “over there” fighting for our freedoms. He painted these four paintings, Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship in just four months. He was inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 speech about the four principles for universal rights: Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Worship and Freedom from Fear.
Since our family studied Norman Rockwell many years ago, I’ve taken a keen interest in his work. I’ve always loved his style of painting and loved the truthfulness, warmth, love and life he portrayed in each and every painting. As I look at these paintings I see four things that I want my children never to take for granted and to always treasure. Of course we have these freedoms because of the blood many generations have shed for us. From Nephi’s men to the soldier who fell just last week, they all have fought for the land of freedom.
The scriptures have promised us that this land will be the Land of Promise if we live righteously. “And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fullness of his wrath shall come upon them” (Ether 2:9).
Our freedoms in the Land of Promise are predicated on our choosing to serve God. As Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) We get to keep the freedoms our forefathers worked out for us over 200 years ago because of our righteousness. It is my duty to see to it that my children are protectors of the Land of Promise.
“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—with be held accountable before God for these discharge of these obligations.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
I have the sacred duty of making sure my children are free from want, from fear and free to speak and worship as they will. As I homeschool my children I instill in them these freedoms every day and in every lesson. I have taught them that even if life gets tough we have Heavenly Father on our side and we shouldn’t fear. I remember sitting around the television on September 11, 2001, and thinking to myself as well as expressing to my children that we shouldn’t be afraid. We had been following the commandments of God and we will be protected and even if something were to happen to us we had been baptized and sealed together as a family. I knew that we shouldn’t fear what happened or what will happen, as long as we are righteous and obey the commandments. I still feel the same today and so do my children. We are truly free from fear.
The freedom from want is one that I feel strongly obligated to teach my sons. They will one day be the head of a household and have to provide for their family. I want them to be able to get and keep a good and honest job that will allow them to be good citizen, a wonderful father, a faithful husband as well as an obedient Priesthood holder. I want their families to never fear because their cupboard is empty or their father is gone. I only have one daughter and I want her to be able to choose a young man like the ones I am raising. I want her to never fear where her next meal will be coming from or if her family will have enough. That means I need to educate my children so that they can be good family members, citizens and spouses. I want my children to always live free from want.
The founding fathers put “freedom of speech” as part of the first amendment to the United States Constitution. They thought it so important that the citizens of the United States of America have the ability to speak their minds and hearts. It is upon this principle that the gospel was able to reach my great-grandfather in Alabama. It was on this principle that two young men in 1972 found my husband’s family and were able to speak their minds and hearts about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thankfully both of these families join the Church and today practice the freedom of speech. I can attest that my children are not afraid to speak their minds and do so regularly. One day my sons and maybe even my daughter will be able to practice their freedom of speech as they take the gospel message to others who are seeking the truth. We are free to speak.
Along with freedom of speech, the first Amendment also says that Congress can “…make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” As our family has been studying different cultures the past few years, our hearts are sadden when we read about governments who had or still have laws dictating to their citizens what and who they will call their gods and who and how they will worship. As my family has studies our family history in our school we have found that our family has not always enjoyed the freedom of worship. In the 1840’s Norwegians didn’t welcome the Gospel of Jesus Christ and our family suffered greatly because of the persecution. In the 1500’s our family was thrown out of two countries for their religious beliefs and that same family was thrown out of England in the 1600’s because they worshiped differently than the government told them to. I never want my children to fear because of how they worship. We are free to worship.
As the United States of America celebrates its 232th birthday, think about the freedoms we enjoy. Not just the four freedoms that Norman Rockwell painted about, but the freedoms we get because we live in the free country we do. The freedom we get because we are serving the Lord and the freedoms we get because we are a Child of God. My family, like those in Normal Rockwell’s paintings, is free from want and fear, free to speak and worship and we are free to choose life, love, happiness and righteousness. My God always bless us with freedom forever.