Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

If only I’d known the prize was chocolate… July 7, 2012

The words for “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” are projected onto a screen at the front of Bethel Ridge Lutheran Brethren Church.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME you listened to a reading of the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence?

Or the last time you sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” or “God Bless America?”

When did you last place your hand across your heart and recite The Pledge of Allegiance?

Have you ever taken a patriotic quiz and realized how much you’ve forgotten about American history or perhaps never have known?

All four of the above, plus quotes from our nation’s founding fathers and leaders, were included in a Patriotic Program I attended on the Fourth of July at Bethel Ridge Lutheran Brethren Church in Faribault.

An audience overview at the July Fourth Patriotic Program.

Although the number in attendance was small—around 30—I’m quite certain those of us attending left inspired, uplifted and certainly more knowledgeable.

Let’s test your smarts. What’s the longest possible time a person could now serve as President of the United States? What was our nation’s first Constitution called? Who was our country’s first Vice President?

Had you correctly answered those three questions (10, The Articles of Confederation and John Adams) and six more at Bethel’s Patriotic Program, you would have won a Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bar. The winning team missed only one of 10 questions. I cried foul. My team, which included a history major, missed three. I contended to a program leader that, had I known chocolate was on the line, we all would have tried harder.

Performers in a skit recite The Pledge of Allegiance along with audience members. The skit was based on a supposedly true story of an American soldier who was captured by the North Vietnamese. As the story goes, he stitched an American flag inside a shirt using a bamboo needle and fabric from clothing and other items.

Before and after the competition we settled into our pews, listening to quotes by the likes of George Washington, James Madison, Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and more.

“It is impossible,” said President George Washington, “to (rightly) govern the world without God and the bible.”

Said President Theodore Roosevelt: “A thorough knowledge of the bible is worth more than a college education.”

And apparently a thorough knowledge of American history is worth a chocolate candy bar.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling