July 4, as our nation came together to celebrate Independence Day, I was reminded of the final verses of one of my favorite songs. The “National Hymn” was penned in by Daniel Crane Roberts with a score by George William Warren in honor of America’s Centennial in 1876. The entire hymn resounds with the pomp and majesty befitting such an occasion, but it’s the last two stanzas that hold a special meaning for me on this Fourth of July.
“From war’s alarms, from deadly pestilence
Be thy strong arm our ever sure defense
Thy true religion in our hearts increase
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace
Refresh thy people on their toilsome way
Lead us from night to never ending day
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine
And glory, laud, and praise be ever thine”
These words remind us of one of the basic freedoms upon which our country was founded – freedom of religion – and the ability to practice one’s faith freely. It also reflects some of the guiding principles – hard work, a steady moral compass and a genuine desire for peace and goodness – that have helped us become, and remain, one of the world’s greatest nations.
The line “lead us from night to never ending day,” to me, on this day, brings to mind the fact that, for generations, Americans have fought bravely and selflessly to give strength to the weak. Empowered with faith that good will prevail over evil and unspeakable acts of darkness, our nation has helped to free others from tyranny and oppression. Bolstered by a belief that all are created equal, our countrymen and women for centuries have ensured a brighter future for people around the world.
I ask you to take a moment to savor the many blessings that we, as Americans, enjoy, to keep our military in your thoughts, and to thank veterans or presently enlisted people you might encounter.