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Smiles and tears were the dominant expressions on the faces of those who gathered for the special patriotic music services held at Capri Christian Church on Sunday, July 2.

Waving American Flags and clapping hands were the dominant behaviors throughout each of the two morning services held to honor God and country. Attendees jubilantly sang along with the CCC Celebration Choir under the direction of Steve Dawes, music pastor.

The special service opened with four young scouts from Marco Island Cub Scout Troup 234 serving as color guards to present the flags, both American and Christian. The scouts gave a salute to the members of the military heroes in the audience, followed by a flag waving rendition of the “Stars and Stripes Forever” medley. Included was the Armed Forces medley that recognized members of the audience who had served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines.

When each branch of the service was called by its specific familiar song, those in the audience who had served, or continue to serve, came to the front of the altar and were recognized as some of our most treasured heroes for helping us keep our freedoms. A roar of laughter emerged when the final call came for those who had served in the Marines. A handful of men and one lady bolted from their seats in the sanctuary and shouted a loud “Oohrah” which is a battle cry common in the United States Marine Corps since the mid-20th century. According to the service men, the term means "charge."

There were many messages delivered through music and video. A video of the development of our American flag served as a backdrop for lyrics sung by the choir summarizing the sequence of events leading up to our becoming a nation of 50 states. The flag is said to symbolize a million stories of the struggles our people had to face to become one nation starting with 13 original stars and adding additional ones as other states joined the union.

“Does anyone know who added the words ‘under God’ to our Pledge Allegiance to the flag?” asked Dawes. “President Dwight D. Eisenhower's urged Congress to legislated two words – ‘under God’ to be added in 1954,”said Dawes. “This makes the pledge read: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” said Dawes. “Remember, America is a nation founded on Godly principles,” said Dawes. Dawes reminded those in attendance that the Scriptures tell us: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord (Psalm 33:12-15).”

The congregation was reminded of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor that symbolizes liberty. “This is important, but even more important is the cross of Jesus that is found in so many places and symbolizes liberty for our souls,” said Pastor Dawes. “Unashamed, I will proclaim that a rugged cross is my statue of liberty,” the choir sang as the medley continued.

The “Cross is My Statue of Liberty” is said to have been penned by legendary American gospel songwriter Neil Enloe. It is now found in many patriotic and religious music lyrics. The message, no matter the singer or the lyricist is that nothing compares to the liberty Jesus gave to us. “May we be broken until we want nothing but your truth; give us hearts to honor you,” said Dawes repeating some of the lyrics from the songs.

“John 15:13 tells us that ‘there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend,’ and we have seen that happen so many time among our service men,” said member Eric Garwood. “Jesus paid the supreme sacrifice, as he laid down his life for all of us,” said Garwood.

In music and video, the message that was brought home was that there is no separation where church and state are united under God. “It is alright to love our country and be patriotic; it is alright to love our nation, but we have to remember to love our Lord first and foremost,” said CCC Senior Pastor Curt Ayers. “Remember, freedom is not free, and it can be taken away,” warned Ayers. “We have to pray for our leaders, and stand up for our Lord.”

A special thank you was offered to Music Pastor Dawes and his celebration choir for an outstanding performance and hard work. Ayers invited all to convene in the social hall and enjoy a hot dog, chips and an assortment of condiments to make this a truly patriotic day. Thanks were extended to Richard and Helen Tull and Sam and Lib Garrett for decorations and coordinating the hot dog lunch.

Capri Christian Church is located at 111 E. Hilo Street on the Isles of Capri and welcomes new members and guests.

Contact Ann Hall at ahall7911@coconuttele.net.

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