July 4-5 is normally a time to celebrate our great nation's birthday. This year being its 244th. Like many, we spent the weekend at home. We had our United States and POW/MIA flags on their staff as usual but also placed along the walk a 13-star U.S. flag as a reminder of America's first birthday. Then a Christian flag as our America was founded on Christian principles.

Friday evening at Mount Rushmore, our Gov. Noem gave a speech that made us proud of our South Dakota heritage and our governor. Then our President Trump gave an inspiring history lesson on four of our great leaders who are enshrined on Mount Rushmore.

George Washington, with a grade school education, became an American political leader, military general, statesman, founding father and the father of our nation. In a war with Indians, after four bullets were shot through his coat, the Indian chief said, "He will never die in battle." He died at Mount Vernon after serving as American general and commander in chief of the colonial armies in the American Revolution (1775-83) and subsequently first president of the United States (1789-97).

It was in the State House of Philadelphia in the year of our Lord 1776 that an old white-haired man, with the outline of the bell (which has the Bible verse Leviticus 23:10 inscribed on it) in the steeple above him, asked a little flaxen-haired boy to do him a kindness, go downstairs and when a man gives you a message for me, you shout it up to me. There was a crowd outside and when the young boy got the message, he shouted a single word up, "RING." The withered hand grasping the iron tongue of the bell, his veins are filling with a new life, he is young again. (As I feel now and felt Friday evening).

On that July 4th, 56 men had just signed the Declaration of Independence, which was written by our 3rd president, Thomas Jefferson, who is enshrined on our Shrine of Democracy. They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in doing so.

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

We are grateful for all who developed this nation, including my great-grandparents and grandparents who came from Sweden and Finland. So many patriots gave their all to give us our freedom and many more died protecting it.

That is why I will always salute the U.S. flag as an American citizen, as a Navy veteran and member of the 40 and 8 "Honor Society of American Veterans" and kneel to my Lord Jesus Christ my Savior. God's peace to everyone and God bless America, land that I love.

Stand beside her and guide her.

Preston R. Olson

Sioux Falls, July 7