AT THE END of the month, we will celebrate Memorial Day. To many individuals this starts the beginning of the summer season. However, the day has great significance. The song "America the Beautiful" has within its text: "God shed his grace on thee."

There is a lot of talk today regarding what is happening to our great country with regard to the economy, future of education and, above all, moral principles. Most of the discussion, according to the media, is negative. I agree, as a nation, we face some critical and important issues. No matter how bad things may seem in our nation, I personally believe we are well on the road to recovery.

Although we should elect officials who are prepared to lead our county properly, they cannot wage the task alone. No general ever won a war without soldiers to follow him into battle. Now is the time for men and women who claim to be Christians to stand up and be counted. No longer can we afford to stand idle on the sidelines.

One of the greatest statements in the Scriptures concerning national life is found in Psalm 33:12, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen for His own inheritance." True patriotism today consists of doing everything we can to bring our country back to a deep faith in God, and submission to his will.

At a meeting of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1778, Benjamin Franklin made a motion that the convention proceedings should be opened with prayer each day. To support this he said, "I have lived a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proof I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured in the Scriptures that 'except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without his aid we shall proceed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel."

Our Founding Fathers were almost without exception committed to the Christian faith. The laws of our country and its jurisprudence are based upon Scriptures as the Word of God. We still use the Christian calendar. Our national and state legislatures are still opened with prayer to the

almighty God.

The ideals upon which our great nation is founded are the greatest in the world. Let us keep them that way. And remember as we approach the Memorial Day weekend, this freedom that we all enjoy just didn't happen. It came

about because of the ultimate sacrifice of brave men and women.

Yes, America, "God shed his grace on thee," so stand up and be counted from sea to shining sea.

The Rev. Jerry Fortunato is pastor of Rhawnhurst Baptist Church