By Chaplain (Capt.) Russell Sanders
On this Fourth of July weekend, as we celebrate our nation’s independence and the privilege of freedom it provides, let us pause, first and foremost, to thank God for the blessing of living in such a great nation. Even during those challenging occasions of division, let us not neglect to remember and celebrate the strong-rooted unity that was instrumental in achieving, and maintaining, our nation’s independence and freedoms.
Consider a parallel example as it relates to the unity of the great people of our nation: the giant sequoia trees of California. These majestic giants can grow to a height of 300 feet and are able to live more than 3,000 years. But the amazing fact about these trees is that they can grow in relatively shallow soil depths despite their massive size, and they withstand buffeting high winds. How is this possible? The key is in their root system, which spreads out and interlocks with other sequoias. This interlocking root system provides the trees mutual support, strength and resources. They can stand tall against high winds because they are united at their base.
The sequoias teach us of the power of unity. Likewise, when the human ties that hold a nation and her institutions together are strong, that nation and its people are better postured to thrive and stand tall against adversity.
Perhaps no one appreciates our nation’s freedoms and the sacrifices paid to gain and keep them as much as service members. We are a diverse group, shouldering a tremendous responsibility. And, just like the example of the sequoias, all our roots depend on one another for strength and survival. Our deep roots are produced not only through a shared mission statement, but through the mutual care and trust we demonstrate to each other. In Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12, God’s word also reminds us that two or three people united in purpose are much stronger than one person standing alone.
Take time to celebrate our deep roots, the blessing of God in our freedoms and our unity amid our diversity.
(Editor’s note: Sanders is the 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment chaplain).