Sermoncitos, a family tradition
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. subjected himself to the rigors of academic and religious study. Our whole nation is blessed because he chose to share the vision of freedom that he gained. As we celebrate on his special day, I think of choices and of freedom.
Our father Adam’s wise choices in the Garden of Eden made possible a world in which we are free to choose and then live with the consequences of our choices. This was a victory over Satan’s plan to destroy the agency of man. Moses 4:3.
Abraham’s choice to leave his father’s home freed him from the oppression of sin and led him to a land of promise and a covenant with God that lives today. D & C 84:32-35
Moses’ choice to leave the slave culture of Egypt led him to receive the priesthood and desire freedom for his people. Deuteronomy 14:2.
John Howard left the monarchy of England in 1625 to have better choices in a land of relative freedom. His descendant, William, chose to join the forces fighting against England in 1776. After the war he chose to leave the plantation with its oppressive culture of slavery and go into the western wilderness to seek new choices. This gave his descendant, William Walter Howard the conditions needed to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and set our family on a path of freedom. He joined with those who rejected oppression of the kings of Europe in the mid 1800s to come to America. They found that freedom is not free, there are those, even in America, who work to take our freedoms.
In the 1800s, our ancestors were driven from their homes at gunpoint, their churches burned. They relocated to find the freedom to live their religion. They used that freedom to build cities and send their children on missions throughout the world, to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the way to peace and freedom.
Marley tells Scrooge that he is bound by the chains he forged in life by the choices he made. Mosiah 3:19... for the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
Today we must choose freedom when confronted with the chains of slavery wrought by addictions to gambling, pornography, and substances. Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. John 8:34. As we choose to be free now, we choose freedom for eternity. ...for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. Alma 34:34. Zechariah’s vision showed that this struggle of slavery against freedom continues in the next life, but as we choose the Savior’s plan of freedom, He has power to save us. Zechariah 3.
Dr. King’s vision was that “when we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”, ...the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. Mosiah 3:20.
...we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen. Alma 26:37.
The 19th and 20 Century freedom movements in the Americas were foreseen by Nephi 600 years before Christ, as were the eventual success of these battles. “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them. And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them. And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle. And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations” (1 Nephi 13:16-19).
May is a good time to celebrate freedom, as it was “el Cinco de Mayo” 1862 that General Ignacio Zaragoza led the citizens of Puebla in a successful resistance against the invasion of the French army. It was 15 May 1776 that the Continental Congress passed a resolution to seek independence from England. “And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place” (D&C 87:2). Independence is celebrated by Paraguay 14 May 1811, Cuba 20 May 1902, Ecuador 24 May 1822, and Guyana 26 May 1966.
June is a good time to celebrate freedom, as 18 June 1868 the Navajo left their long confinement at Fort Sumner and started the long walk home. “...wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren” (1 Nephi 13:30). 19 June 1865 the slaves in Texas learned of Emancipation and began to be free. 19 June 1867 Benito Juárez ordered the execution of Emperor Maximiliano and ended the five year French Intervention in México, restoring to them “the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance” (1 Nephi 13:30).
July is a good time to celebrate freedom. It was 2 July 1776 that Congress, after much resistance and debate, approved the Declaration composed by Thomas Jefferson. John Adams signed it, and predicted that “this day will be celebrated with fireworks and music throughout all ages of history. The celebration is finally set to 4 July, and the Congress completes signing it on 19 August. 4 July 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo passes 1/3 of Mexico to the United States. Independence is celebrated by the USA 4 July 1776, Venezuela 5 July 1821, Argentina 9 July 1816, Bahamas 10 July 1819, Colombia 20 July 1810, Peru 28 July 1821.
September is a very good time to celebrate freedom. 9 September 1850 California became the 31st state and Utah and New Mexico were made territories of the U.S. 9 September 1492 Columbus set sail to explore a western route to the East Indies, but landed in the West Indies. “And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land” (1 Nephi 13:12).
September 11 is a day to contemplate the effort that it takes to acquire and maintain freedom. “And it came to pass that I beheld multitudes gathered together to battle, one against the other; and I beheld wars, and rumors of wars, and great slaughters with the sword among my people” (1 Nephi 12:2):
11 Sep 1297 Scottish rebel William Blake defeats the British at the battle of Stirling Bridge, making Wallace the sole guardian of Scotland.
11 Sep 1649 Oliver Cromwell seizes Drogheda, Ireland, killing 3,000 people (most of the inhabitants). 1659 Sir George Booth's troops are routed by John Lambert at the Battle of Winnington Bridge, the last battle of the English Civil War.
11 Sep 1773 Benjamin Franklin states: “There never was a good war or a bad peace”.
11 Sep 1777 General Washington loses 1200-1300 of his troops and Philadelphia to General Howe at the Battle of Brandywine.
11 Sep 1814 Francis Scott Key is captured at the Battle of Lake Champlain, and composes the Star Spangled Banner (14 September).
11 Sep 1857 Utah militiamen at war with the U.S. try to blame an unauthorized battle with emmigrants on the Paiute, but when they are discovered, they try to cover up by leaving no witnesses, and 120 are massacred at Mountain Meadows.
11 Sep 1973 President Nixon orders a coup in Chile in which Pinochet deposes Allende. 11 Sep 1980 Chile establishes a new constitution.
11 Sep 1986 nuclear bomb tests in Nevada. 11 Sep 1983 nuclear bomb tests in USSR. 11 Sep 1969 nuclear bomb tests in USSR.
11 Sep 1987 shoot out at Jean-Bertrand Aristides' church in Haiti, 12 die.
11 Sep 1991 14 die in a Continental Express commuter plane crash near Houston
11 Sep 2001 19 Saudi terrorists hijack four commercial jets, killing nearly 3,000 in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. President Bush declares September 11 “Patriot’s Day” and retaliates by unleashing “Shock and Awe” against Iraq in March 2003 and declares victory on 14 April, but the war never ends. “Behold what the scripture says - man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay” (Mormon 8:20).
11 Sep 1992 Hurricane Iniki injures 8,000 in Hawaii. September 2005 flags are at half mast for 1,836 Hurricane Katrina victims. 11 Sep 1847 “Oh Susanna” premiers in Pittsburg: in this dream sequence it rained all night in Louisiana. “For I, the Lord, have decreed in mine anger many destructions upon the waters; yea, and especially upon these waters” (D&C 61:5). Yet, “they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them” (Alma 26:6).
On the 15th of September 1810 the native born people of New Spain (criollos) met to discuss freedom from Spain. The “Literary Guild” meeting in the home of Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez is discovered by the Españoles. Doña Josefa sends word to Padre Hidalgo, who rings the bell of the church late at night to gather the people. His rousing speech initiates the revolution.
16 Sep 1810 Padre Hidalgo shouts “Viva la Independencia, Viva la América, Muera el mal gobierno, Viva México”, and the movement for freedom from european kings is initiated for all of Western North America, Middle America, and South America. “And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle” (1 Nephi 13:18). The war ends in 1821. The constitution of 1823 forms México.
17 Sep 1787 the Constitutional Convention presided over by George Washington in Philadelphia concluded its work on what is now the oldest federal constitution in existence. It is based on the oldest existing constitution on the planet: the Massachussetts Commonwealth Constitution written by John Adams, and the Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy (People of the Six Nations). September 17 is U.S. Citizenship Day. and the beginning of U.S. Constitution Week. “According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.” (D&C 101:77-80).
Independence is celebrated by Brazil 7 September 1822, 15 September 1821 Costa Rica, Guatemala, 15 September 1838 Honduras, México 16 September 1810, 18 September 1818 Chile, 19 September 1983 St. Christopher-Nevis, 21 September 1821 El Salvador, 28 September 1821 Nicaragua.
Nevertheless, thou beholdest that the Gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance; wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer... that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness, which thou beholdest they are in, because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen...I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb... And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation... And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be” (1 Nephi 13:30-37).
We have many reasons to remember the sacrifices that have given us a hope of freedom. We should hearken to the words of the God of this land, and walk in obedience to His commandments, so that our freedoms may be preserved. “Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever” (2 Nephi 1: 9). Let us use our freedom to fulfill our calling to bring the Gospel of Peace to the world.
The Flag of Freedom
My Father, Robert R. Fitts, through his example, instilled in his
children the love and respect for America and for our flag. Nathan and I
have always displayed a flag about our homes in 41 years of marriage.
Serving a mission in Washington DC gave us an additional infusion of
patriotism and deepened our love and understanding of our precious
heritage of liberty and freedom. We learned more about our great Colonial
leaders...such strong and courageous men with a faith in God that led us
to a free United States of America. The Lord tells us in D&C 101:80, "And
for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the
hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose..."
Flags of liberty flying over the Americas are not unique to current
It was reported of Moroni, "....and he took the pole, which had on the
end thereof, his rent coat, and he called it the title of liberty, and he
bowed himself to the earth, and prayed mightily unto his God for the
blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a
band of Christians remain to posses the land."
Our flag is the emblem of our country and the symbol of all that
patriotism means: peace, security, freedom of religious worship, love of
family and friends and a mulitude of blessings that come from keeping
God's commandments. "Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation
shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity and from
all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the
land, who is Jesus Christ." Ether 2:12
President Hinckley said, " I love America for her great and brawny
love her for her generous heart. I love her for her tremendous spiritual
strengths...God bless America, for she is His creation."
How can we not respect and fly the flag, the symbol of America, showing
our appreciation and gratitude for living in this choice land. Also, may
we on this day, give thanks to those who are serving our nation and
remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our
Most importantly, please remember along with the all that the flag
represents...we must remember our convenants, to live righteous lives and
keep God foremost in our hearts in order to merit the blessings that He
intented for this great Nation.