I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free.
Those lyrics are from the most patriotic American anthem of the last half-century, Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA. Ronald Reagan played the song the year it came out, at the 1984 Republican convention, and it gained iconic status after the 9/11 atrocities.
Yet the song was deemed inappropriate by Stall Brook Elementary in Massachusetts, so teachers removed God and insisted students sing We Love the USA instead.
The most important word in the whole piece of music is the word God, Lee Greenwood told Todd Starnes of Fox News. We can't take God out of the song, we can't take God out of The Pledge of Allegiance, we can't take God off of the American currency.
There are moments in American life where the silent majority speaks, and this time it roared. On Thursday, School Superintendent Edward Fleury announced, Students will be allowed to sing or not sing the words 'God Bless the USA.'
In other words, they'll be allowed the freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment.
And this made news? Why?
Because we're so used to the PC police steamrolling our traditional American values. Fleury even opened his statement by saying, Political correctness is certainly a consideration in the public sector. No! Our nation is governed by laws -- first and foremost the Constitution -- not by speech codes. In fact, the public sector's only role in speech is ensuring you can exercise it freely. And when it comes to religion, it's there only to guarantee you can practice yours.
Despite Fleury's accommodation, the damage is done, and the systematic expulsion of God from the public square advances -- just by an inch this time instead of a mile.
How many students at Stall Brook Elementary will be afraid to sing the chorus of Greenwood's song? How many will learn from this episode that faith is something deviant that they should practice behind closed doors?
There's a chilling effect on religious expression all across the land, from school policy all the way up to President Barack Obama's health care mandate.
As a candidate for Congress, I know that incumbent politicians act differently in an election year, and, lately, Obama is pandering to us bitter Americans clinging to our religion. But last year at this time, his actions showed that he agrees with Fleury: God is something best not mentioned in polite company. In 2011, Obama didn't release a proclamation marking Good Friday, ignored the holiday in his Saturday radio address, and said nothing on Easter Sunday. The White House also scrubbed Christ from the Easter Egg Roll in favor of an eco-friendly theme focused on promoting health and wellness.
It didn't used to be this way in the Land of the Free. In the 1940s, a man arguably farther to the left than Obama, Woody Guthrie, wrote his folk song This Land is Your Land, originally titled God Blessed America for Me as a retort to God Bless America. His words ring in my ears today: This land is your land. This land is my land. From California to the New York Island.
Those lyrics are dear to my heart because they mention the home I hope to represent in Congress: Long Island. But the words also remind us that nobody has the right to tell us what God to worship or where we may worship Him.
So to the children of elementary schools everywhere I say, Sing 'God Bless the USA' if you choose to do so. Sing it loud and sing it proud. As Greenwood said, [My] song is played at every naturalization ceremony behind The National Anthem. If the song is good enough to be played and performed in its original setting under those circumstances, it surely should be good enough for our children.
On this Easter weekend, brave Christians in places like North Korea and Saudi Arabia will dare to whisper Christ's name -- and risk getting thrown to the lions for their faith. But here at home, Christians will thank God they live under the Stars and Stripes because, [T]he flag still stands for freedom, and they can't take that away.
They haven't yet, but the forces of intolerance will always try.
That's why it's not enough to love America; we must also protect her.
And it's why, in Greenwood's words: I'll gladly stand up, next to you, and defend her still today. 'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land. God bless the USA.
George Demos, a former U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission enforcement attorney, is a Republican candidate for Congress in New York's 1st District. You can find him at GeorgeDemosForCongress.com or on Twitter @Demos4Congress