As I write this, I’m in Paris for a granddaughter’s wedding. Yes, I’ve come to that place and time in my life where I look forward to weddings (and soon as possible afterwards, subsequent babies) of my grandkids.
Here in the hotel I’m treated to CNN and, thankfully, Fox News. So I’m in touch with home, but also looking at it from afar. You do get a somewhat different perspective.
My wife and I were in this same hotel, the George V, 50 years ago. It’s still much the same, in its grand tradition of stately elegance, wonderful service and Old World ease and comfort.
But so much has changed back home in these same 50 years. I wrote about a lot of those changes in my recent autobiography, “Pat Boone’s America, 50 Years.” When the publisher approached me to write my story, I wasn’t keen to do it; but then I agreed, if I could weave the incredible events of my career into an overview of how America had changed so dramatically during my singing and acting life. The publishers and I believe the result, a big tabletop book with 200 pictures, has been worth the considerable effort.
Now, as I see our country reflected on foreign television, I’m quite sad about so many of the changes in our national life and very nostalgic for the America we were, not so long ago.
Wouldn’t it be great if all our kids, in all our neighborhoods, could still run up and down the sidewalks, riding tricycles and bikes and playing with their friends? If they could walk considerable distances to school, safely, and back in the afternoon? Without neighborhood watches and ever-vigilant crossing guards?
Wouldn’t it be great if, when the kids get to school, they could join in a brief voluntary prayer before the classes start? Just a prayer thanking God for our freedoms and asking Him to watch over America and help each kid do his or her best during that school day? Wouldn’t that be so much better than the metal detectors and drug testing and free condoms and abortion counseling that have replaced those prayers?
Wouldn’t it be great if teachers still taught kids about who actually created this great nation, and why? About the deep faith and dependence on a God who cared, who instilled in us the yearning for liberty and equality, who motivated the men we call “our Founding Fathers”? About George Washington kneeling, praying in the frozen snow at Valley Forge when it looked like there was no hope for his little ragtag army against the mighty British?
Wouldn’t it be great if our kids knew that all the great old colleges in America started out as Bible schools? That every single schoolkid in those early days attended classes in the Bible, along with arithmetic and geography and history? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that were still the case?
Wouldn’t it be great if all our young people knew and could sing at least the first verses of our best-loved patriotic songs, the way you and I did? And if they sang them together at school once in a while, songs like “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” and “America, the Beautiful”? Maybe even the first verses of our military anthems, like the Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force songs? I know we all did when I was in grade school.
Because this is so rare, and kids today rarely know or even hear these songs, I recorded all of them and even produced a video depicting them in a CD/DVD package called “American Glory.” Sadly, I’m the only one who’s done this in the last 50 years! And I’m still looking for the ways to get them to our kids themselves; most continue to be totally deprived of songs we all used to know.
And wouldn’t it be great if every last American who’s qualified to vote actually registered and voted in every election, local and national? Sad, almost incomprehensible to say, barely half of our citizenry cares enough about this freedom and responsibility to do it. For whatever reasons – and excuses – millions of us sit at home and fail to help elect our most able, responsible and truthful neighbors to represent us in our city, state and national governments.
As a result, we keep getting something far different than what our founders intended, and what we most need: fellow citizens who will actually represent our interests in those government positions and do our bidding, not their own.
Wouldn’t it be great if every Congress member, senator and president still considered himself or herself a “public servant” – and not our monitor or warden or boss? And if every judge knew it was his or her duty and absolute responsibility to render every verdict in strict obedience to the Constitution, and not to some long-held personal philosophy or social view?
Wouldn’t it be great if parents taught their kids to obey every law, whether anybody was looking or not? And to respect all other kids, regardless of their different color, or religion, or the make of their jeans or sneakers? And maybe to have jobs, at home or elsewhere, to learn the value of a dollar and what personal responsibility is?
Wouldn’t it be great if we all spoke the truth and demanded it from our elected representatives – and also demanded Bible truth and action from our spiritual leaders? And absolutely forbade our elected government to pile trillions of dollars of unpayable debt on our backs?
From here in Paris, the things I’ve loved about America seem more vital and precious than ever. I’ll be returning soon, and I intend to do everything in my power to exercise the freedoms we still have – and to regain the ones we’re losing. There are elections taking place now and more in November. I’m praying for ways to wake up my fellow Americans and energize them to get to the polls, to support the best candidates and above all – to vote!
Maybe you feel the same way, and you will join me.