Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day

No posts today. Instead, we reflect on the things that really matter -- freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. None of these things are possible without a strong military and soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect us. We thank all of our serviceman past and present for protecting the things we all hold as Americans most dear.
Veterans Day

Today we stop to remember those who who fought and those who died for the many freedoms we enjoy here in America. I thought I'd share a poem written by Philadelphian George Henry Boker, a popular mid-century writer better known for his stage work but who penned a number of pieces in the Civil War. This one, A Battle Hymn, is my favorite of these patriotic pieces.


by George Henry Boker

God, to thee we humbly bow,
With hand unarmed and naked brow;
Musket, lance and sheathed sword
At thy feet we lay, 0 Lord!
Gone is all the soldier's boast
In the valor of the host:
Kneeling here, wc do our most.

Of ourselves we nothing know:

Thou, and thou alone canst show, 

By the favor of thy hand, 

Who has drawn the guilty brand.

If our foemen have the right,

Show thy judgment in our sight

Through the fortunes of the fight!

If our cause be pure and just, 

Nerve our courage with thy trust:

Scatter, in thy bitter wrath, 

All who cross the nation's path: 

May the baffled traitors fly,

As the vapors from the sky

When thy raging winds are high!

God of mercy, some must fall

In thy holy cause. Not all 

Hope to sing the victor's lay,

When the sword is laid away. 

Brief will be the prayers then said; 

Falling at thy altar dead, 

Take the sacrifice, instead.

Now, O God! once more we rise,

Marching on beneath thy eyes;

And we draw the sacred sword 

In thy name and at thy word.

May our spirits clearly see

Thee, through all that is to be,

In defeat or victory.

There is of course a much more famous Battle Hymn, which just so happens to be my favorite all-time song (which I sang numerous times in my decade long career as a choir singer). Here's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir giving a more or less definitive interpretation of this song.

Now that you've heard the song, listen to this soliloquy by equally incomparable actor Orson Wells about Julia Howe, the writer of the greatest song in American history.

We should never take our liberties and freedom for granted, especially today.

-- Dr. Todd

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