Sunday, November 11, 2007

Not Forgotten

One of the most memorable moments of my college life came on this day four years ago as a memorial was dedicated for veterans of the United States of America. Two things make that day stick out in my mind. One is a veteran who recited the poem, "In Flanders Fields" by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (actually from the Canadian Army). It was touching to watch these veterans with their silver hair covered by 50-year-old military hats and tears welling in their eyes as they listened to the words of that poem. The second thing that stands out was another veteran of World War II who sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" a capella without missing a note or a word. While we hear this tune at every sporting event from high school football to the Super Bowl, you can't compare those versions to the one I heard that day. It was a version sung with conviction and understanding of what Francis Scott Key was feeling as he penned the words to the United States' national anthem. That veteran did something you will not likely ever see at a sporting event, though. He sang all three verses to the hymn. The crowd of veterans and their families stood. No one coughed, no one sneezed. Many saluted, and a few shed tears. Certainly, there was a special feeling being there with those veterans that day. To them, I give humble thanks on this Veterans' Day. Thank you to all veterans of the past two-and-a-half centuries who have defended the land I call home.

Think on the words of those two works as you go about your business today. Remember, the first verse of the anthem is a question, and the answer is found in the second, a prayer of hope is the third.

In Flanders Fields, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The Star-Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key
Oh say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thru the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

1 comment:

Brad & Ang said...

Thank you for that post Ry, it was touching, and your patriotism is overwhelmingly contagious. We all owe everything we have in this great country to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, both those who made it and those who didn't. I thank God everyday for our brave soldiers who fight for our freedom.