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Let Freedom Ring!

A few weeks ago, I participated in an event that espoused not only our Catholic faith but also America, the country in which we all reside.  Within that event we worshipped God our Father, historically covered how our Catholic faith along with its missionaries help shaping this country and finally paid tribute to our country.  This organization has four degrees in which the last represents patriotism.  Why patriotism?

Patriotism is love of country and pride in the values and ideals it represents. As patriots, we are devoted to our nation. Citizens of our country exhibit patriotism when they salute their country’s flag, sing their national anthem, or celebrate their nation’s day of independence.  As patriots, we know what the country stands for, its history, and the sacrifices our Service Men and Women have made to not only create it but to keep it free!

Patriotism is more than just an emotion.  As we love our children, we also develop the same love for our country that we learn and nurture from a very young age.  As patriots, we actively participate in what makes our nation successful. These would include voting, supporting community events, and defending our nation against all enemies, foreign or domestic. 

Patriotism encourages healthy debate and sometimes courage to stand up for our country’s values.  Former President Theodore Roosevelt stated, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president, or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country.” American patriotism has evolved to provide protection to all races, genders, ages, and the values of religious freedom, freedom of speech, and democratic elections.

The organization that exemplifies Patriotism within its Fourth Degree is the Knights of Columbus.  Within its first eighteen years of its existence in 1882, the Knights of Columbus had only three degrees representing Charity, Unity and Fraternity.  At the beginning of 1900, the Knights of Columbus desired to establish a degree representing patriotism.  That new ritual was named the Fourth Degree and was first exemplified in New York on 22 February 1900. Fourteen hundred members were chosen to witness the first ceremony where future councils would recruit other Knight’s worthy of receiving this highest fourth degree.  In years that have since followed, this patriotic honor has been exemplified and embodied in various cities and councils where “Sir Knights” have become a special group and assembly within their respective councils.

With becoming a Knights of Columbus member, one must epitomize the core principles of the first three degrees that include:  Charity (first degree) – Our Catholic faith teaches us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  Knights recognize that our mission, and our faith in God, compels us to action; Unity (second degree) – Unity means none of us is as good as all of us. This principle helps Knights realize their true potential as Christian brothers and the sacred power of unity while being united in the body of Christ and embodied in full participation in the Catholic Church; Fraternity (third degree) – Fellow Knights watch out for and take care of one another to include giving their time with assisting sick and/or disabled members and their families. Knights that have attained the 3rd degree enjoy privileges that include ability to serve as a local council officer, and admission to state and Supreme Council business meetings. Patriotism (fourth degree) – Promotes and strengthens the patriotic spirit of the civic community while educating members/others in the teachings of Holy Mother Church, and the history of our nation.

The Knights of Columbus core values echo those of our founding fathers who on 4 July 1776, 245 years ago, , separated from England and became the first American Patriots.  That patriotism that is echoed today and promoted by the Knights of Columbus.  Let Freedom Ring!  Blessings Dcn Jim.