Posts Tagged With: United States

A Brief Pause in the Dawn’s Early Light

Every school morning there’s a bit of extra traffic in front of my house. Foot traffic, bicycle traffic, car traffic. It’s spread out over forty-five minutes of drop-off time, so it doesn’t seem like that much. When that traffic clears and school starts what follows has made living so close to the school a sweet daily reminder of how charmed a life I lead.

English: Flag of the United States of America....

The American National Anthem plays on the loudspeaker system every school morning. It’s broadcast outdoors apparently, not just indoors. It’s loud enough that I can hear it inside my house.

I remember hurrying across campus at college to get inside a building before the National Anthem and flag raising started so I wouldn’t have to stop and stand with my hand over my heart, freezing, for those interminable minutes while it played. What a dweeb! I was young and shallow and clearly didn’t appreciate what that really meant. Decades later I get it and will stop and listen and pay respect with my hand over my heart.

One of the parents in the neighborhood walks his kid to school and brings the family dog along. When the anthem plays the dog “sings” along. I kid you not. The dog barks and yowls in this high-pitched singalong dog falsetto that is something crazy to behold. I like to think the dog gets it. I know that’s stretching it a bit, but it makes me smile to imagine that a dog knows what a charmed life it lives, too.

US Navy 041217-N-3236B-022 A World War II U.S....

A World War II U.S. Army veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, salutes the American flag during the playing of the National Anthem.

It surely makes me pause every single time I hear it. It’s not the words and it’s not the music. It’s what it represents; a daily memoir of thousands and thousands of lives shared, lived, changed and lost. Today, September 20, the third Friday in September, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Is there an appropriate way to remember and honor people like this? Gratitude for  their sacrifice, mindful of the price of the freedom I enjoy. I can start there.

The National Anthem is also a daily question: “Can you see?”

And so I ask myself. Can I see? Can I see what abundance lies before me? Can I share that somehow today?

I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant. That’s the last message I’d want to convey here. I guess I just want to acknowledge that I feel lucky, grateful, humbled. I don’t want to take any of this for granted.

I’ve included all four stanzas of the Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key. Read it with the tune in your head, or read it as a poem.

But please, read mindfully and see what it says to you today.

Can you see?

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O 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 thro’ 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: O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d 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 preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause 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!

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Categories: Gratitude, Poetry, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Watching as The World Folds in On Itself

Television

Television (Photo credit: videocrab)

In 1989 we lived in the Seattle area in Washington state. MSH was working out-of-town in Oakland, California. He called me unexpectedly from his office phone.

“Turn on your TV.”

It was late afternoon, just after 5:00 actually.

I turned on the television and he said, “That’s me. That’s here. I’m under a table in an office building that’s swaying back and forth.”

It took a minute for me to understand what was going on. An earthquake in the Oakland area. A big one from the looks of things.

We didn’t talk for long. I hung on the TV for the rest of the night. Hungry for news, afraid of the news. Finally a phone call came through from MSH. The power was out in his hotel, but he was fine. He called from the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile  in front of his hotel. He chuckled.

What? I shook myself from the daze I’d fallen into.

All I cared about was that he was okay. Hearing his voice took the weight off my heart. I could breathe again.

English: Image taken by NOAA's Cessna Citation...

Ground Zero Image taken by NOAA’s Cessna Citation Jet on Sept. 23, 2001 from an altitude of 3,300 feet  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fast forward twelve years. MSH is working in the midwest. Iowa, although I don’t remember the city.

I was getting the kids ready for school and trying to get myself ready for work at the same time. The phone rang, far too early in the morning for an ordinary call.

It was MSH. “Turn on your TV!”

My stomach lurched.

Why? What?

“Just turn on your TV!!”

What I saw seemed unreal, nightmarish, horrifying. The kids stopped what they were doing and stood motionless, breathless,  staring at the screen. We watched, stunned,  as a towering building folded in on itself and disappeared and then another followed.

The world folded in on itself that morning. Lots of things folded under and changed with the horrific quaking that happened that early September morning. The world continues to crumple, morph and become unrecognizable.

I’m not sure I’ve caught my breath since then.

I’m not turning on the TV today.

I don’t want to remember.

But I will.

In my own quiet way.

Categories: The World | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m Always Learning Something New, This, For Example

Portrait of the first president of the United ...

Portrait of the first president of the United States, George Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

[New York, 3 October 1789]

 

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

 

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

 

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in thecourse and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

 

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

 

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

 

Go: Washington

 

Categories: Gratitude | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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