“Oh, beautiful for patriot dream That sees beyond the years.” (The first line in the fourth verse of America the Beautiful)
Anyone who knows me knows my idea of patriotism is not “America, love it or leave it.” Or “My country, right or wrong.”
I’ve read the accounts of the massacre at Wounded Knee, where Native American women were killed with their babies in their arms and little boys who were told they’d be safe were slaughtered. I’ve read about the Trail of Tears where Native Americans were marched in a Bataan-type death march where families wept as they had to leave the sick and dying along the trail. I know about the internment camps where loyal Japanese Americans were sent simply out of fear and prejudice. I know all that and more, and to deny those things happened or to explain them away, is not patriotic. I can only guess what Katherine Lee Bates envisioned when she wrote those words.
But when I watch the Fourth of July celebrations from Washington, D.C., I am always moved. In fact, I am moved by any aerial shots of the monument and capital complex.
My first time in DC was 1962. Jo and I had been to Philadelphia and stopped by on our way home to see what we could. Back then you could drive and park anywhere you wanted. We rode the elevator up the Washington Monument and then walked down. It was the last thing we did before leaving. My knees were jumping so much I had a really hard time holding the clutch in on the 61 Corvair we owned.
Our next trip was about ten years ago, when we, and some others joined Richard Crites’ biology class from Virginia Western on a DC trip. Again, I was moved. However, not so much by the actual buildings and monuments, as I am the “dream” of what the center of our government can mean, and should continue to mean, not only to us, but to the rest of the world. I use the word “dream” because it is still a dream in progress. Even those who wrote the first words of that dream had no idea the full meaning of what they were writing. Not all men and women were seen as equal, but the dream was there, as were all the dreams of liberty and justice for all.
When Martin Luther King Jr. stood in Washington and ad-libbed a line he didn’t intend to use the “I have a dream” statement became part of history.
For me the dream is beyond the “Beltway,” with it’s power-grabbing, egomania, greed and self-interest. Sadly, that’s part and parcel for all government. The “dream” is that which “sees beyond the years,” as Bates understood when she wrote the words of America the Beautiful.
To see beyond the years is to see beyond the issues which dim the dream until it is almost blurred beyond hope. Perhaps Bates also understood that when she ended the first line with, “Thine alabaster cities gleam, Undimmed by human tears!”
As a patriot, I’m not a flag-waver in the sense of a hands-off approach to what I think is the “mystery of America.” I say “mystery” because America is all of us, not just those who want America to belong to them. Flag-wavers are too often those who refuse to share America with those who see the “patriot’s dream” differently than do they.
Having said that, I still feel emotion when I see the stars and stripes and hear our national anthem.
It was pointed out during the last Olympics that The United States and Honduras are the only nations whose national anthem is about a symbol, and not the country itself. One theory is that the other nations have a background of monarchies and the anthem stems from that. Perhaps, but I’m glad the symbol of this country is its flag. Because the stars and stripes represent all Americans and no one idea in particular.
As I watched the Fourth of July festivities and saw the faces of adults and children of all colors standing side by side waving their little flags, I dreamed an impossible dream. I dreamed of a nation of people standing side by side to bring about the patriot’s dream. But I soon came to myself. I knew there would be anger and road rage as the crowds dispersed to go back to the world where dreams die quickly. Back to a world where we often fail to understand citizens of every nation love their country. We may feel, and openly say, that America is the greatest country on earth. But there are others who feel the same about their country, and we should respect that. Because, while we are all part of the United States of America, we are also citizens of the world. That’s why the layout of Washington, D.C. as a wheel with spokes pointing in all directions is significant to me. Not because we want to enforce our form of government on the world, but because the dream of freedom, equal human worth and dignity on which this country was founded is a dream for all people.
Has the patriot’s dream come true? No. Great dreams never come true, they just keep on becoming truer. Just as the words “All men are created equal” was an unrealized dream at the time they were written, they became, and will continue to become truer as the dream evolves. That’s the “sees beyond the years.” That’s what Martin Luther King Jr. meant. That’s what will keep the dream continually alive, because if it is ever assumed to be complete, the dream will fade into hopelessness. There is no utopian world. There is only the continuing challenge of bringing into reality as much of the dream as possible in our time. As in the past, so in the future, others will see beyond the years to continue fulfilling the dream.
The dream is much bigger than America. It’s the dream of a man named Jesus. His was a dream for the whole world and his teaching makes up the heart of all dreams for a world where all persons are equal. To be part of that means being a patriot in a nation without borders, a worldwide nation where God’s blessings are for all.
CONCERNS: Richard Crites hopes to be home soon, but is still in Raleigh Court Health and Rehab, room 118. Bud McWhorter is in Brandon Oaks after knee surgery. He may be home by today. Both Joni Beach’s mother and father are having health issues. Jim Hunter is now home. Roger Fisher’s brother, Woody, is now in a nursing home in WVA. Remember as well, Harold Tidwell, Debbie McRoy’s cousin, (brain cancer and heart problems) Larry Foy’s brother, Charles, T. J. Hall as he deals with medication issues. The Hall’s neighbor, Eliza Dyne (breathing problems) Perry Hall’s mother-in-law, Bill Albert’s son, David, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas. Former member, Betty Shepherd needs a kidney transplant. Sue Huels, Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood, Jenni Cullum and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 20-25
Monday: John 5:19-47
Tuesday: Philippians 1:19-30
Wednesday: Genesis 7:1-24
Thursday: Lamentations 1:8-16
Friday: Romans 8:12-25
Saturday: Psalm 133:134
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 27-AUG. 1
Monday: Psalm 46
Tuesday: John 14:1-11
Wednesday: Psalm 23
Thursday: Isaiah 26:1-4
Friday: Matthew 5:1-16
Saturday: I John 2:7-11, 15-17
Jack Thompson will be holding a fundraiser for his Eagle Scout Project in the Fellowship Hall next Sunday, July 26th following the morning service. Food will be served until 1 o’clock, or until everyone is served. The meal will include pancakes and breakfast ham, as well as butter, syrup and other condiments. Drinks will be Orange juice, coffee, tea and water.
Jack also wants you to know if you attended his last fundraiser, he does not expect you to donate again.
Jack is our second scout raising money for an Eagle Scout project. Nick Bolin raised money to build a nice and much needed storage shed at the minister’s home.
Please attend if you can.
Thanks to Lyn Jordan and Holly Wagner for doing some trimming and clean-up work around the building. Weed and foliage killer has been sprayed on some out of place grass, as well as in the back of the annex. More will be sprayed in other areas as well.
As you can see, the sidewalk the city constructed along Brandon Ave is basically finished. It improves the property as well as the neighborhood. It was done without interfering with our parking lot.
This Sunday, July 19th is Super Sunday. Make plans to stay and enjoy both the meal and the fellowship
The format for the new directory is finished and the printing and assembling will start soon. If any changes have taken place in your information, there still may be time to change it. Call Erma.
Stacy and David Maharrey will be moving to Oxford, Miss. about the middle of next month. The contract was not renewed for the group who employed David at Lewis-Gale Medical Center. This put David in limbo as to if he would be hired by the new group, so he and Stacy have decided to move closer to their parents. We are sorry to see them have to make this decision as are they.