Gateway: Living

Faith: Upcoming Freedom Concert aims to prepare community for Fourth of July holiday

I would like to invite the community to the upcoming Freedom Concert, a program of choir and 40-piece orchestra, video and narration, in tribute to all who have served and continue to serve to protect America’s freedom.

The concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 18 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2002 Peacock Hill Ave., Gig Harbor.

A gift to the community, there is no charge for admittance, and donations will not be accepted.

When it comes to the Fourth of July, allow me to share some personal reflections I shared with my own children and grandkids during last year’s holiday.

I have traveled abroad quite a bit and some you have had some of the same experiences.

During my 30-month mission in Brazil as a young man I came to love the people of Brazil and appreciate that good country. But when I flew into LAX in 1965 I did a push-up in front of the terminal and kissed the ground. Today, I am recounting blessings of living in this great nation — America!

I believe that nobody appreciates more what America means than do the immigrants among us who grew up in another country; but even their second and third generations lose some of that appreciation. I hope you never do. Others who have served in the military abroad also have a deep appreciation and love of this country and many fly the flag in their yards.

I love the symbols of America. In Tacoma, we now have a huge American flag next to state Route 16, visible from the approach in both directions, and I love to see Old Glory flying in the breeze. On a recent day I kayaked around Gig Harbor and discovered a pair of bald eagles building an aerie in the top of a Douglas Fir at the head of the harbor. God bless America!

I’m counting the blessings of freedom. Some may seem simple to you. When I see the stars and stripes while riding my bicycle I sometimes say a quiet Pledge of Allegiance. When I was 12 years old, Congress added the words “under God” to the pledge. We children were taught that the phrase “one nation under God” was not to include a pause after “one nation.” We recited the Pledge of Allegiance in school each morning.

I pedaled past the Skyline Presbyterian Church in Tacoma yesterday and saw posted on their message board for the Fourth: “From every mountain side let freedom ring.” I thrill at singing that hymn, “My Country, ‘tis of Thee” or “America,” written about the same time as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in this free country.

Freedom has proved an expensive commodity, but priceless. You should see the pictures of the many resident veterans which are displayed on the wall at the retirement community where I work. I am humbled to know them. And they love this country.

Immediately following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, some of the other retired FBI agents and I wanted to volunteer to return to service in any way we could — even in clerical functions — to assist the bureau agents in their counterterrorism efforts. Of course, the bureau had no way of accepting our offer. So I personally resolved to do better at whatever I was doing, which included my work at the time of conducting background investigations for government security clearances. I suppose that is all most of us can do for our country — to do well whatever we are doing, and pray for her.

So, children and grandchildren, let’s love and do the best we can for God and this great nation, which I testify really has been blessed from above. Happy Independence Day weekend!

On Faith columnist Alfred Gunn, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Gig Harbor, can be reached by e-mail at alf.gunn@gmail.com. For more information, visit www.mormon.org.

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