Americans will celebrate the 236th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, and the world’s newest country, South Sudan, celebrates its one-year anniversary as an independent nation just five days later on July 9.
While the celebrations will differ by culture, a common theme will be national pride, well expressed in each national anthem.
|O! say can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night,
That our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled
banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free,
And the home of the brave?
We praise and glorify you
For your grace on South Sudan
The land of great abundance
Uphold us united in peace and harmony
Arise! Raise your flag with the guiding star
And sing songs of freedom with joy
For peace, justice and liberty
Shall forever more reignOh great warriors!
Let us stand up in silence and respect
Saluting our martyrs whose blood
Cemented our national foundation
We vow to protect our nation
So Lord, bless South Sudan!
The Cost of Freedom
These songs symbolize the extraordinary human cost of freedom.
South Sudan’s Second Civil War (1983-2005)
About 2 million people have died from war, famine and disease in South Sudan’s second civil war.
The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) reported in 2004 that more civilians died as a result of the war than in any other war since World War II, calling it the longest civil war in history. USCR said that 4 million south Sudanese fled their homes to other parts of Sudan, producing more internally displaced refugees than any other country on Earth. About 500,000 fled to other countries. Conflicts continue in spite of the peace agreement, so the death and bloodshed isn’t over.
There was a war-produced famine in 1998 that resulted in 70,000 deaths, and food shortages still threaten nearly 2 million more people with the prospect of severe malnutrition or starvation. FH is responding. See how here.
The American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
Casualties of the American Revolution are hard to estimate for a lot of reasons, including the mere fact that the war occurred in the 1700s. A smallpox epidemic ravaged North America between 1775 and 1782. Most of the smallpox deaths were civilians – historian Joseph Ellis believes immunizing the troops was one of the most important decisions made by General George Washington.
Wikipedia says that more than 25,000 revolutionary soldiers died, but only about 8,000 from battle. Another 17,000 died from starvation or disease. Another 25,000 were wounded or seriously disabled.
The 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence predominantly were educated, wealthy and had a lot to lose. Yet, they promised, “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Five of the men were tortured as traitors. The homes of twelve were burned. Nine fought and died in the Revolutionary War, as did two of their sons. Others lost all their wealth and died in poverty.
The role of God
It’s been said that the writings and behavior of the signers of our Declaration of Independence show that 50 of the 56 men were active Christians. Their mention of God six times in the declaration indicates a belief that their new government was under God’s control and that God values everyone equally. At least one famous author attributed religious freedom to America’s success as a democracy.
The Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the 1830s and later wrote Democracy in America. In his book, he observed that the American Patriots considered religion essential to freedom, but his countrymen saw religion as freedom’s enemy. The French Revolution descended into massive bloodshed, but – minus the Civil War - America avoided such violence. Tocqueville wrote, “Freedom sees religion as its companion.”
May the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, rely on the words in its national anthem that declares: “Oh God! We praise and glorify you for your grace on South Sudan, the land of great abundance. Uphold us united in peace and harmony.”