By Wendy Hart
Two-hundred forty years ago, 56 men pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to support the Declaration of Independence “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” How firm did that reliance have to be?
A mere eight weeks after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Washington and the Continental Army were defeated on Long Island. But a miracle occurred during their retreat. British General Howe tried to send warships up the East River to surround Washington, but a stiff wind appeared and prevented their advance. Later, under cover of darkness, the Americans retreated across that same river. But now the winds shifted to shepherd the Americans across. Even so, the retreat took all night. As the sun rose, there were still numerous troops left on the island. Eyewitnesses state that a thick fog arose, but amazingly, it settled precisely over the retreating American army. Once the Americans were safely across the river, the fog lifted.
The Battle of Long Island was not an isolated incident. Dorchester Heights, White Plains, Trenton, Germantown, Valley Forge, Stony Point, Cowpens, and even Yorktown are just a few of the areas where the elements combined to aid the Americans and impede their enemies.
2,300 years earlier, Nephi “beheld that the Gentiles…did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them…[T]he Gentiles…were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.” (1. Ne. 13:16,19)
We are the inheritors of that legacy of faith and freedom. This Independence Day, we are “bound” to gratefully acknowledge the Hand of God in establishing and preserving this nation. But in doing so, we should be willing to live righteously to qualify for the continued blessings of Heaven on this land. As we, like our forefathers, support the Declaration of Independence, may we do so “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…”
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”–George Washington