A Nation's Strength
What makes a nation's pillars high
And it's foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?
It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.
Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.
And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.
Not gold, but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.
|Lewis Bankhead, WWII|
Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
|Reagor Hearn, Korean War|
Just like every nation from the beginning of time, America has had it's moments of blazing glory and dark hours of shame. It's story a reflection of the humanity that has dreamed and inhabited her, some hearts flawed others burning pure.
Regardless of her reputation or destiny, I am proud of my American heritage, I count my birth on her land an undeserved grace. Not because of her intrinsic virtue but because of the safety and freedom, luxury and opportunity my birth here has afforded me. Had I been born a girl in another country would I have been educated, sold into slavery, married as a child or even allowed to live? I can't know the answer, but I do know that here in America my life has been good. And, regardless of the serious problems facing her and the shame she struggles under, I am thankful to be her daughter. Branches of my family, and Chris', have been here since she was born and, for better or worse, my small destiny is entwined with her great one.
So today I remember. I remember her birth, tumultuous and brave, gasping for first breaths of freedom. I remember her heart rending under the weight of war between brothers dressed in gray and blue, her children's blood spilling across her own grassy skin. I remember a nation of boys going to right a world's wrongs, to send evil running, coming home as men, twice. And all the men and women in between in more complicated, harder to define conflicts, wars, skirmishes. Only two are pictured here but there have been many of our family members numbered among their ranks. So this weekend I remember, by God's grace, it is her people who have made her great.