I’ve had a fascination with typewriters since I was 3 years old. I used to sit at my pastor-father’s manual Royal and pretend I was writing a sermon.
When I was in 8th grade, I audited a beginning typing class at the local community college. It was then I learned about the eight keys on the standard keyboard known as the “home row.”
In case you’ve forgotten, the home row of keys is comprised of ASDFJKL and the semi-colon. They are the resting position for your two hands. They’re like middle C on a piano. The home row serves as a foundation. They provide a perspective for your fingers as you type without having to look at the keyboard. Once your left hand and your right hand are oriented, you have a sense of security of where you are and where you’re headed.
With that orientation in mind, I’d like to consider those eight keys on this Independence Day weekend. Each of those letters stands for something foundational to our identity as a nation. They underscore what sets us apart. These qualities are the home row of our freedom.
A stands for allegiance. Whenever we say “the pledge,” we vow our allegiance to more than the flag. We promise loyalty to the republic for which it stands. As we watch the Ukrainians resisting the Russians to remain independent, we see allegiance modeled courageously. What we see inspires us to a greater patriotism.
S calls to mind stewardship. When we sing “America the Beautiful,” we are reminded of what lies beneath our spacious skies from sea to shining sea. The beauty of our country is ours to maintain and keep beautiful. We are the stewards. We are the caretakers entrusted to guarantee a litter-free, carbon-free future for our descendants.
D is for democracy. My Greek ancestors introduced the concept to our planet 2,500 years ago. For the last 246 years, we have carried forth the concept of self-rule. A government of the people, for the people and by the people is what makes our home sweet home as sweet as it is.
F stands for faith. Although we are a nation that insists on an appropriate border between church and state, we have always been a nation that has recognized a higher power and humbled ourselves with gratitude for the undeserved blessings of the Almighty. The fabric of our union frays to the degree we disregard God’s presence and sovereignty.
J is for justice. In spite of what we promise when we place our hand over our heart and pledge allegiance to Old Glory, we have failed miserably to ensure justice for all. Nonetheless, the pursuit of justice remains at the core of our corporate conscience. Equal treatment under the law is the homefield advantage our constitution guarantees.
K calls to mind kinship. America has always been a family of people made up of individual families. We’ve been called a melting pot and an ethnic gumbo. We are a quilt of diverse cultures stitched together by the thread of a common dream. But that common dream does not denigrate our unique backgrounds. Rather, it celebrates them. Kinship is at our core.
L stand for Liberty. The gigantic statue in New York Harbor and the cracked bell in the City of Brotherly Love will never let us forget that liberty is at the heart of our identity as a free people. We fight wars on our own behalf and on behalf of others to protect the right to vote, the right to worship, the right to protest and the right to succeed.
The semi-colon (;) reminds us of the fact that our story as a nation is still being written. According to Thomas Jefferson, the American experience is an experiment still being tested. Each Independence Day is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the kind of country we desire to be as we keep our fingers on the home row.