(Warsaw, Poland, January 1945)
World War II reduced much of Western Europe to rubble. Homes, businesses, factories, and much of the infrastructure were damaged or destroyed. How could the region rehabilitate itself? It couldn’t. Even two years after the war ended, very little rebuilding had been accomplished. Many people were living in poverty. Government agencies, in chaos themselves, could offer little if any support.
America came to the rescue, helping to rehabilitate post-war Europe at the cost of $22 billion dollars. That’s about $182 billion in today’s economy, to assist sixteen nations, including Germany, for six years (1946 to 1952) (1).
Granted, the investment provided a boon to our economy when those nations began to thrive and became strong trade partners with us. National security was undoubtedly enhanced as well.
But a nation such as ours, rich with resources and populated by creative, entrepreneurial people, could surely have survived quite well without their participation. Besides, think what America could have done with $22 billion.
No, greater than economic gain or national security was the importance of doing the right thing and providing humanitarian aid – even to our enemies.
“Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos,” said then-Secretary of State, George C. Marshall.
No other nation in history has offered such post-war assistance—and so generously. Now, nearly seventy years later, the foreign aid continues—still totaling billions of dollars every year. And not only does this aid go to our allies or other republics, but to nations of differing political doctrines, all over the globe.
Such generosity is one of our core values in America, contributing to our nation’s greatness. But it is not the only thing.
No other nation on earth offers so much humanitarian aid—much of it by volunteers. Think of the doctors and nurses, teachers and engineers, plus a multitude of non-profit organizations whose sole objective is to relieve suffering around the world and help others lead more productive, satisfying lives.
In 2013 just one agency, the American Red Cross, accomplished the following (among many other achievements).
- Assisted millions of people in 24 countries, impacted by disaster.
- Continued to aid 4.3 million earthquake victims in Haiti to rebuild their lives.
- Helped vaccinate over 98 million children against measles.
- Continued to develop disaster preparedness in 32 countries, so communities are not so vulnerable.
- Helped to reconnect nearly 900 families separated by war or disaster (2).
Is it safe to say that, without America, the world would be a very different place? Our generosity and humanitarianism alone have produced significant results around the globe. But there is still more that sets us apart.
No other nation on earth provides such freedom, opportunity, and protection for its citizens.
In addition, recent immigrants often speak of the wonder and delight they experience upon coming to America. They marvel that: roads are regularly repaired, highway signs are clear and accurate, business practices are generally fair. They’re astonished by the volume and variety of goods available–things that most American take for granted, like shampoo, disposable diapers, and deodorant (3).
And what’s the foundation of all this goodness that has contributed to America’s greatness? It’s the values and principles most Americans still embrace–those laid out in the Bible.
Our generosity can be traced back to Deuteronomy 15:7-8, Proverbs 21:26, and Matthew 25:34-40.
Our humanitarianism—even to our enemies—is rooted in the teachings of Jesus (Matthew 5:44) and Paul (Romans 12:20).
And our way of life, based on freedom, fairness, and adherence to law brings to mind the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), Romans 12:9-10, and many other scriptures upholding respectful treatment of all.
Granted, we’re not perfect. Selfishness, greed, and power-grabbing fester among us. But the world is still a better place for the biblical principles named above which provide America’s foundation–whether folks acknowledge that truth or not.
Praise God for his influence through our founding fathers (many of whom were Christians) and self-sacrificing believers in Jesus throughout our 240-year history. It is on their shoulders we stand to do our part. to advance those attributes that make America great–like no other nation.
What do you think has contributed to America’s greatness? Celebrate your appreciation for our nation in the comment section below!