Colleen Deneen: Parade forced us to choose between ‘God and country’ |

Colleen Deneen: Parade forced us to choose between ‘God and country’

This year’s annual Fourth of July Grass Valley/Nevada City parade brought mixed sentiments to our community.

We were fortunate to be able to hold our parade after many months of lockdown.

However, many were not so fortunate as to be able to attend due to the change of start time from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. The change of start time forced numerous Grass Valley and Nevada City residents to choose between showing our patriotism by attending the parade or showing our gratitude and faith in our God by attending Sunday morning church services. This forced choice was even more pronounced because of the parade route passing by the several churches along Church Street.

I am observing with alarm the growing phenomenon to relegate faith in God to the outskirts while moving happy, lighthearted celebrations to the forefront.

This became particularly apparent with this year’s Fourth of July parade. Despite many contacts with the Chamber of Commerce, members of the City Council, the mayor and the city manager to request a change of start time of the parade, it evidently had to take place as planned.

Almost a greater concern than the actual start time of the parade is the apparent oversight of consideration given local citizens who attend Sunday morning church services.

Perhaps Sunday was looked at as just another one of the seven days in a week. Perhaps there wasn’t even an appreciation on the part of civic leaders that many people attend church on Sunday. I suppose we tend to think that all people behave as we do: attending or not attending church.

Perhaps in the excitement of planning Independence Day festivities church attendance did not cross anyone’s awareness.

One of Venerable Fulton Sheen’s popular TV episodes from the ’60s was called “Quo Vadis, America” (Where are you going, America?). Sheen said “Patriotism is a virtue … allied to the virtue pietas, meaning love of God.” He said, “When we no longer have love of God, (nor give any attention to God) we no longer have love of country.”

The point he was making is that our nation was founded, and has thrived, on the understanding that our rights and liberties come from God and nowhere else. Once we rebel against God by relegating Him to second place, or removing Him from our lives completely, we move toward totalitarianism, which permits no individual freedom and subordinates the individual to the authority of the state.

I feel certain that moving the parade time from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. this July Fourth parade was an oversight and not a deliberate attempt to force citizens of our community to choose between God or country. More than likely, family tagged along to either.

My hope is that in the future as civic events are planned, consideration will be given to the order of priorities our founding fathers lived and died by: God, family and country.

Colleen Deneen lives in Grass Valley.

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