In memory… and in honor…

“Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation… Hail to the Chief, we salute him, one and all. Hail to the Chief as we pledge cooperation in proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.”

“Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander… this you will do, that’s our strong, firm belief.  Hail to the one we selected as commander… hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!”

I wonder how many of you also did not know the words to this song that we have heard many times over the past few days as we mourn the death our former President George H. W. Bush… a song that is played each time a President enters a room or other public location. So I share them with you, and admit to you that, reading them for the first time, they have given me much to ponder.

Can I just say that I love our country?  I love our flag.  I love the grandeur of our capitol… its high ornate ceilings, its elegant floors, its sense of awe.  I love the formality of our country’s leadership as they demonstrate the responsibility of their positions.  I love that we value our leaders so much that thousands upon thousands stand in line for a moment to share their respect.  I love our freedom!

As I watched this week, I was struck by the diversity I witnessed.  I saw members of the military standing guard and caring for our late President… men and women of many races, of many backgrounds… some very decorated for their military service, some much newer to that important career… all working together in perfect harmony.  And it reminded me again how very grateful I am to every person who has served to protect our country through military service… thankful to my parents, thankful to President Bush, thankful to thousands more… some who gave their life, but all who gave of their time, their heart and their spirit to assure that I, that you, that we can live in a land of freedom.

Can I share with you two things which touched me deeply today as I watched the memorial service for President Bush?  The first… the song, “The Last Full Measure of Devotion” – lyrics by Robert Jager… here are those lyrics… and with them my gratitude again to each who serves or served our great country.

A grateful nation bows its head in sorrow
And in thanks for guaranteeing our tomorrow
The last full measure of devotion – that’s what they gave to the cause.

The last full measure of devotion
And though they cannot hear our applause
We honor them forever and keep alive their story
Pay tribute to their lives and give them all the glory.

The last full measure of devotionbeyond the call of duty were their deeds.
The last full measure of devotionthey gave themselves to serve the greater need.

And for those who did survive and came back home alive,
They join in praise of comrades who were slain
And highly resolved, most highly resolved… that these dead shall not have died in vain.”

And, I found the words shared by author and historian Jon Meacham to give us many valuable life lessons… I hope these samplings from his words shared are meaningful to each of you… thank you to Jon Meacham for sharing good words of wisdom and a wonderful tribute to George H. W. Bush, our 41st President…

  • “Sensing that his men had not made it (… following his plane being shot down during WWII), he was overcome. He felt the weight of responsibility as a nearly physical burden. And he wept. Through the ensuing decades, President Bush would frequently ask, nearly daily, he’d ask himself, ‘why me? Why was I spared?’ And in a sense, the rest of his life was a perennial effort to prove himself worthy of his salvation on that distant morning. To him, his life was no longer his own. There were always more missions to undertake, more lives to touch, and more love to give.”
  • “A master of what Franklin Roosevelt called the science of human relationships, he believed that to whom much was given, much is expected. And because life gave him so much, he gave back again and again and again.” 
  • “In his personal life, he stood in the breach against heartbreak and hurt, always offering an outstretched hand, a warm word, a sympathetic ear. If you were down, he would rush to lift you up. And if you were soaring, he would rush to savor your success. Strong and gracious, comforting and charming, loving and loyal, he was our shield in danger’s hour.”
  • “… His heart was steadfast. His life code, as he said, was ‘Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course.’ And that was and is the most American of creeds. Abraham Lincoln’s “better angels of our nature” and George H.W. Bush’s “thousand points of light” are companion verses in America’s national hymn. For Lincoln and Bush both called on us to choose the right over the convenient, to hope rather than to fear, and to heed not our worst impulses, but our best instincts.”

To each of you who are a giver of care, of love, of support to others… may these words resonate with you… may you know that you are making your world a little better through each kind word you offer… each smile you give… each touch you give… thank you all. I look forward, as always, to your comments… thank you so much.

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