It was nearing supper time, and my husband and I sat in our front yard quietly discussing the horrific headlines of the day. We stopped short when our five-year-old neighbor skidded his bike tires in front of us.
“Hey, buddy,” I said. “How was school today?” Mike asked.
“It was a sad day,” our little friend replied.
“Why?” I asked hesitantly, hoping it had to do with not sitting next to his best friend at lunch.
He relayed the tragic news of the day accurately, with only a hint of emotion. With his blue eyes and light hair, it was as if a miniature Anderson Cooper had appeared in our driveway to deliver the evening news. It was especially surreal to hear the words come from a kindergartner’s mouth.
With our own children now grown, Mike and I searched for the right words to say. Our young neighbor saved us by saying, “We learned a good song in music today.”
He concentrated for a few seconds to find the words and the tune, humming a little and then solemnly singing, “Land where my fathers died…”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the American flag attached to our house gently waving in the breeze. I joined him, softly singing, “Land of the pilgrims’ pride…”
On that autumn evening, three Americans sat in the driveway in an ordinary neighborhood in the middle of the heartland and sang this song ~
My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing
Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
As adults, who learned the anthem long ago from our own elementary music teachers, it was comforting to revisit the words, not as a tired and trite tune, but as a call-to-action to continuously renew the beauty and promise of our country to all of its citizens, especially the youngest Americans who just learned the song for the very first time.
“Let mortal tongues awake; let all that breathe partake; let rocks their silence break; the song prolong!” ~Samuel Francis
Think On These Things ~ A