On this Memorial Day I happen to be in our nation's capitol, here to visit out son and daughter-in-law and to meet out first grandchild. As I write my blog this morning I am literally sitting just a few moments away from the national mall, immersed in an ocean of shrines and monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in our nation's wars - World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Arlington National Cemetery is just a short distance away.
Being here in this environment on Memorial Day has made me very reflective.
On the one hand I am very grateful for those men and women who sacrificed their lives for the welfare of the common good - without their willingness to lay down their lives, I may not be sitting here today.
On the other hand, I am always cautious not to let national holidays like this become occasions to glory war and violence. On a day like today many citizens might be prone to categorize the world into good and bad, right and wrong, and to think that everyone who lives inside our borders are always the good guys with the white hats and that "foreigners " out there are the bad guys in those other camps.
As I see it there is evil and darkness in every nation and in every land. There are tyrants and terrorists in all corners of every culture and likewise there are also people of good will and gentle spirit in all the nations of our tiny little planet earth
Today, as I sit in the shadow of the national monuments to the fallen heroes of my own country and honor their lives and sacrifices, I also celebrate the eternal truth that all the people of every land all belong to one another, all intimately interconnected as one tribe.
Today as I sit here steps away from the graves of those who died in my nation's wars, I also remember all people in every land who aspire to peace and do their best to embrace a life of compassion.
There is one particular hymn that seems so appropriate for a day like today- it is not necessarily a Christian hymn and in fact is a song that could be sung by any person of goodwill anywhere today whether or not they are American citizens, by believers and non-believers alike.
As I look out toward the direction of the national mall, I think I may even hear the sounds of a marching band getting ready for the big "Memorial Day" parade today, and in my heart I sing the words to this hymn:
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song. thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.