I have successfully carried out my first mission since moving to Oregon from British Columbia Canada back in June.
It’s always bothered me to hear the U.S. president end a speech with the words “God Bless America.” And it rankles a bit that ever since 9/11 the song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” has been either complemented or replaced entirely with the singing of “God Bless America” in major league ballparks during the 7th-inning stretch.
I always want to jump up and yell, “What about the rest of the planet?”
In early July I was standing outside a store where the big windows in front had been painted in red, white and blue for the 4th of July. The artwork included a really nice Statue of Liberty and, of course, “God Bless America” in large blue letters.
On another nearby window, someone had posted a flyer using some blue masking tape that closely matched the color of the lettering. So I appropriated a small piece of the tape measuring about an inch square and wrote “& the whole world” on it and stuck it to the 4th of July window behind the words “God bless America.”
This message-clarification mission was judged a success, because when I went by the store a month later both the 4th of July artwork AND that little piece of tape were still there.
This blessing-of-nations thing reminded me of the farewell address given by former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower before leaving office in 1961. He cautioned that the nation had changed in the first half of the century.
“Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry,” said Eisenhower. “American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords, as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist,” he warned.
The speech is not long — less than 15 minutes. It is easily found on the Internet, and the message Eisenhower shared still has relevance and resonance today. Teachers and grandparents should share it with children.
Regarding the blessing of nations; the final three paragraphs read:
“You and I — my fellow citizens — need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.
“To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:
“We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the Earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”
Eisenhower did not end his farewell address with “God bless America” to the exclusion of the rest of world.
Pat Kelly lives in Medford.