Today we honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. I’d like to share this poem by American author Francis Marion Crawford with you. This would make an excellent reading for any Memorial Day ceremony.
A New National Hymn
By Francis Marion Crawford
Hail, Freedom ! thy bright crest
And gleaming shield, thrice blest,
Mirror the glories of a world thine own.
Hail, heaven-born Peace ! our sight,
Led by thy gentle light,
Shows us the paths with deathless flowers strewn.
Peace, daughter of a strife sublime,
Abide with us till strife be lost in endless time.
Her one hand seals with gold
The portals of night’s fold,
Her other the broad gates of dawn unbars;
O’er silent wastes of snows,
Crowning her lofty brows,
Gleams high her diadem of northern stars;
While, clothed in garlands of warm flowers,
Round Freedom’s feet the South her wealth of beauty showers.
Sweet is the toil of peace,
Sweet is the year’s increase,
To loyal men who live by Freedom’s laws ;
And in war’s fierce alarms
God gives stout hearts and arms
To freemen sworn to save a rightful cause.
Fear none, trust God, maintain the right,
And triumph in unbroken Union’s might.
Welded in war’s fierce flame,
Forged on the hearth of fame,
The sacred Constitution was ordained ;
Tried in the fire of time,
Tempered in woes sublime,
An age was passed and left it yet unstained.
God grant its glories still may shine,
While ages fade, forgotten, in time’s slow decline !
Honor the few who shared
Freedom’s first fight, and dared
To face war’s desperate tide at the full flood;
Who fell on hard-won ground,
And into Freedom’s wound
Poured the sweet balsam of their brave hearts’ blood.
They fell; but o’er that glorious grave
Floats free the banner of the cause they died to save.
In radiance heavenly fair,
Floats on the peaceful air
That flag that never stooped from Victory’s pride;
Those stars that softly gleam,
Those stripes that o’er us stream,
In war’s grand agony were sanctified ;
A holy standard, pure and free,
To light the home of peace, or blaze in victory.
Father, whose mighty power
Shields us through life’s short hour,
To Thee we pray : Bless us and keep us free ;
All that is past forgive ;
Teach us, henceforth, to live
That, through our country, we may honor Thee ;
And, when this mortal life shall cease,
Take Thou, at last, our souls to Thine eternal peace.