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National motto gains renewed recognition

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“In God We Trust,” our official motto, had an anniversary this week. Tuesday marked the anniversary date in 1956 when a joint resolution by the 84th Congress was approved and signed by President Dwight Eisenhower.

The resolution declared “In God We Trust” must appear on all American currency. The phrase was first used on paper money in 1957. Interestingly, the nation of Nicaragua and the state of Florida joined America as having adopted the phrase as their national motto.

In a major new move there was introduced beginning on July 1 a new standard North Carolina vehicle license plate, which is available at no additional cost when annual plate renewal dates occur, or can be purchased at other times for an additional $20 charge. The change came about as a result of legislation introduced by N.C. Rep. Bert Jones and approved last year by the General Assembly.

Now, this may not mean much to you. But it marks another step to return the phrase back to the recognition of importance it has held since way back in 1864 when it was placed on a 2-cent piece in capitalized form. In a time in which there are those whose very first priority is to remove any recognition of God from the public square, it is comforting to see renewed interest in restoring our motto to a prominent place.

We, in our household, adopted a practice some 30 years ago that every piece of U.S. mail leaving our home bears the phrase “In God We Trust,” a practice that has assured one way to be sure the name of God is not removed entirely from our society. May I challenge you, if you agree, to begin placing the phrase on mail leaving your home, as one way to make sure the name of our creator remains in the public square. You can write it by hand, or get a stamp at a very reasonable cost which lasts for some thousands of prints without reinking.

Back to the new N.C. vehicle license plate. The plate is very attractive with the “In God We Trust” phrase in large letters across the top of the plate, and the unofficial motto “E pluribus unum” printed across the bottom. There are custom plates available also, but at $30 additional charge. These new ones require no additional charge if purchased at annual renewal time.

It’s encouraging to see that the motto is appearing now in many new places. In the state of South Dakota recent legislation approved requires “In God We Trust” to be displayed in every school. Here in North Carolina, it is being displayed in a number of other public places, including the rear bumper of all Harnett County Sheriff vehicles, and on those of other public vehicles in many more counties.

Of course, there are those who are howling against it. That’s all the more reason to speak out. The reality is that our nation was not founded under Buddha or Allah. Rather it was founded on the basis of standards of our Judeo-Christian God. I urge you to not just read this and toss it aside. In a recent joint poll by USA Today, CNN and Gallup, 90 percent of Americans support the inscription “In God We Trust” on U.S. coins. The same sentiment would apply to other places.

In South Carolina recently the Tega City Council removed a Bible verse from the memorial honoring fallen police officers on the city hall front lawn. They originally removed the Bible verse and references to the name of the Lord. Then, before long, they removed the entire memorial. A massive national outrage erupted and the council was overwhelmed by the outpouring. They issued a statement which read: “After consideration and much conversation with people on both sides, the council has made the decision that the police officer’s prayer memorial will be restored to its original state and located on the grounds of the new police station.”

Acknowledging their misreading the will of the people, they added, “We want to thank everyone for voicing your opinion. It is always proper to do so on such a sensitive subject.”

In today’s society we’ve lost much of the freedoms we have known as a nation because we failed to speak up. A comeback is in the offing if we start exercising our voices publicly and strongly. How about it? Try starting by including the motto on all mail leaving your home. It may surprise you how much it means, and may cause you to start speaking up more to protect your precious freedoms.

J. Russell Capps is a Republican former member of the N.C. House.