Tag archives: Patriotism

Hallowed Grounds, Hallowed Name

by Family Research Council

July 28, 2014

One solemn guard proceeded on the well-trodden 21-step march in front of the tomb. The clock was striking three o’clock, and the sound reverberated off the surrounding marble as silence fell. A baby gave a cry. My cousin leaned over to me and whispered, “Eerie.”

There was something eerie about it, but also something beautiful, hushed, a kind of respectful awe that pervades a sacred place. This place is sometimes called “our Nation’s Most Sacred Shrine”—Arlington National Cemetery.

Here is the place where rest those who have given the last full measure of devotion to the protection of a country worth defending. Here a ground consecrated by blood, sweat, and tears, here the bones of men who carried a nation to victory on their backs, spurred by the fire of patriotic allegiance. From the greatest of men to the humblest, all now are equal.

These hallowed grounds draw some three million visitors each year, many of whom flock to witness the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They gather for the history, the renown, for the memory of the fallen. They assemble to witness the famed and sacred ritual in honor of the soldiers known but to God.

Our country is losing such rituals, such attention to sacred details. There are other sacred shrines in this country, but this cemetery, this ground hallowed by the sacrifices of dead patriots, is the most sacred. Many religious ceremonies still maintain a level of liturgy, but the state has forsaken public liturgy and replaced it with an informality that trivializes sacrifice. Perhaps this is why Arlington draws such crowds, because tourists see such things that have become unknown in the life of the nation.

The crowds gather before the hour strikes, witness the ceremony, and leave before the new guard takes even one march. Rather than accepting the challenge, “Could you not spend one hour with me?” as have the soldiers who guard the tomb for their hour-long shifts, tourists spend the bare amount of time seeing the “exciting” parts, and then they depart.

The demands of schedules, of young children, or perhaps of a sense of emotional overwhelmedness press-out lingering. Yet should contemplation of sacrifice be only transient? Are there ways that, in our daily lives, we can ponder why we live in the freedom we enjoy?

If only such beautiful liturgy could be reintroduced to daily life. Americans should meditate on the sacrifices that have made freedom possible, and remember that the work of the dead is not finished, but advanced. We must be dedicated to the furthering of such work. We should allow beauty to permeate the soul, whether it be in the form of artwork, music, or prayer. And we should put ourselves in the state of mind to receive such beauty, and allow the blessings that have been passed down from our ancestors to elevate our minds to a greater purpose. If only such reverence would be given not only to the dead, but to the Creator of the living and Reviver the dead. If only we would have the patience and the mindset to witness and enter fully into the entirety of sacred ritual, and, along with the guard, spend one hour on the hallowed grounds to revere the hallowed, unknown name.

O Say Can you Sing?

by Robert Morrison

March 1, 2011

Okay, Ill admit it: I cannot sing anybodys national anthem. When I sing in the shower, the water stops. To carry a tune, Id need a forklift.

So I think Im an impartial judge of anthems. And I dont take kindly to liberals knocking the Star Spangled Banner. Their latest excuse is the mess of a job done by Christina Aguilera at the Super Bowl. They call it the star mangled banner in Washingtons political insider sheet, The Hill.

First, the singers at these events arent singing the national anthem at all. Theyre singing their own made-up versions. The national anthem is a sprightly military air. That means theres one way to sing it. All the improvisations, all the fresh and new interpretations, are not our national anthem.

Now, Ray Charless America is a wonderful adaptation of the century-old patriotic song. Nobody is saying you cant have variations in old music. And, too, you can add new tunes all the time.

God Bless America was once new before it was the Republican national anthem. It was especially moving, however, when it was first aired. Then, war in Europe seemed inevitable and Kate Smiths rendition of the Irving Berlin song struck a powerful chord with Americans who thought God had indeed blessed Americawith 3,000 miles of anti-tank trench to keep Hitlers panzers away.

Similarly, Lee Greenwoods God Bless the U.S.A. hit at exactly the right moment in history. After a decade of oil shocks and the humiliation of seeing Americans held hostage in Iran, Americans yearned for affirmation. Lee Greenwoods hit song came at the moment when Country and Western music even took Manhattan. Its hard to imagine Greenwoods song taking off if Fritz Mondale had been elected president.

So, there are plenty of ways to interpret old chestnuts and, if youre not satisfied with that, write a new one. But leave the Star-Spangled Banner Alone.

We are coming up on the two-hundredth anniversary of the War of 1812. Maryland is already out with a commemorative license plate that shows the bombs bursting in air over Baltimores Fort McHenry. I know; its confusing. Its the War of 1812, but most of the exciting stuffthe burning of Washington, D.C., the shelling of Fort McHenrytakes place in 1814.

More confusing still, the war was concluded with the Treaty of Ghent, signed by British and American negotiators in that Belgian town on Christmas Eve, 1814. Yet the greatest battle was fought on January 8, 1815, when Gen. Andrew Jackson, crushed the invading British at New Orleans. If peace treaty-maker John Quincy Adams had only friended Old Hickory on Face Book when the war was over on paper, we might never have had our great victory, or Johnny Hortons classic country hit, The Battle of New Orleans:

We fired our guns and the British kept a’comin.

There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.

We fired once more and they began to runnin’ on

Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, Ill concede it, if Christina Aguilera wants to do her own interpretation of Johnnys song, Id say: Honey, have at it. She can probably only improve it.

Deep down, I suspect, liberals dont like the national anthem because theres all that talk of the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air. They dont like to be reminded that sometimes you have to fight for freedom.

In fact, if the Toronto Blue Jays play the Baltimore Orioles at Cambden Yards, youll hear a battle of the bands. O Canada contains the lines: We stand on guard for thee.

Those rockets and bombs in our anthem were British and hostile. Those Canadians were loyal to Britain and were standing on guardagainst us Yankees.

The final reason liberals dont like the Star-Spangled Banner, I think, is that last stanza. Check out these lines:

Oh! thus be it ever when free men shall stand

Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,

Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven rescued land

Praise the Power 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.

It took an Act of Congress to make the Star-Spangled Banner our national anthem back in 1921. That was a Republican Congress. It seems the new House majority has shown up just in the nick of time.