Please don’t watch this until you have four undistracted minutes to spare.
You’ve heard of Lee Greenwood and the song. He wrote it in 1983, when Ronald Reagan was president. Reagan embraced him and the song, bringing it to national prominence. It has become a standard, and is heard more often around Independence Day celebrations, 9/11 and commemorations, etc.
Jay Sekulow is a Christian lawyer and heads the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) which seeks to be an ACLU for Christian causes. As a hobby, he is drummer and has put together a band to do cover songs. He has recorded videos of songs with John Schlitt (former rock-and-roll lead vocalist for Head East, and, later, Petra). This is a video Sekulow did with Lee Greenwood, apparently for July 4th of this year.
Things to watch and listen for:
Greenwood is 72, and listen to how he can still belt it out. Amazing.
The arrangement and instrumentation are simple, and the setting appears to be a small studio without an audience, yet Greenwood sings the song like he is in a stadium with 100,000 people and has a full orchestra behind him. Though he must have sung the song hundreds, if not thousands, of times, he sings it here like it’s the only performance of it he’s ever going to give. I love the way he believes in the song and gives himself to it.
Note the words to the song: very good. Obviously, it’s a prayer and that in and of itself is moving, but notice also lines like “where at least I know I’m free” – which reminds us that the founders of our country came here not because it was the richest nation in the world and thereby offered security, but because they wanted to be free from governments which sought to squelch their religious beliefs and practices. Therefore, they were entering the unknown and the wild but had confidence that God would guide, protect, and sustain them – because He was the reason they had come to this strange and undeveloped land. They loved Him and wanted so much to serve Him without restraint – so contrary to the spirit of our day, in which people seek to rebel against any restraint that respect for God might bring.
Especially watch and listen to Greenwood throughout – from the very beginning to the very end. At the very end, when most singers would be taking a bow or stepping back from the microphone, he speaks, not sings, the words “proud to be an American,” softly shaking his head at the wonder of it all – still so full of the song and its message that it continues to flow out of him even after the song is completely over.
I know very little about Lee Greenwood, but this video was a bit a tonic for me in the miasma brought on by all the things going wrong in our country. I don’t feel “proud to be an American” these days. I feel grateful to be an American, but, at the same time, ashamed – because we have squandered so much of what our forefathers bestowed upon us through their devotion to principle. By God’s grace, however, the country can turn around. But even if it doesn’t, by God’s grace, you and your little ones can be preserved even while it is destroyed. Keep your eyes on Jesus…He will guide, protect, and sustain you through it all.