Music & the Spoken Word: ‘The dream of a nation’

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Nov. 7, 2021.

More than 20 years ago, Gene Scheer read a book about the creation of the Constitution of the United States. He read about the passionate dedication of the founders of this nation — a nation that would one day become a symbol of freedom for the world. As he read, he felt inspired — so inspired that he wrote a song and called it “American Anthem.” The song has been performed at presidential inaugurations and was featured in a popular documentary about World War ll. Scheer said he wanted it to be a rallying call, reminding citizens — including himself — of our responsibility “to get out there and … do something” for the country (see In “What Is ‘American Anthem,’ the Song in Biden’s Inaugural Address?” by Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, Jan. 20, 2021, qz.com).

This is what he wrote:

All we’ve been given
By those who came before
The dream of a nation
Where freedom would endure
The work and prayers
Of centuries
Have brought us to this day.

What shall be our legacy?
What will our children say?
Let them say of me
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings
I received

Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
America,
America,
I gave my best to you.

Today, in particular, we honor the veterans who gave their best. They served so nobly, gave so much, to preserve and defend all that we hold dear. “The dream of a nation where freedom would endure” would still be only a dream if not for their selfless service.

At the same time, the sacred responsibility to keep the dream alive belongs not only to the women and men in uniform. All who are blessed by our nation’s legacy have a duty to preserve and defend it. As the anthem declares, freedom has endured thus far through “the work and prayers of centuries,” and that’s how it will continue. That work surely includes standing up for freedom and taking seriously our shared civic duty. It must include shunning contention, respecting and valuing others, listening to and learning from those different from us, and simply being neighborly and kind.

If we can do that, then perhaps someday our children and grandchildren will read about us and feel grateful and inspired — grateful for the legacy we’ve passed along, and inspired to preserve it for another generation.

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, ksl.com, BYtUv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoiratTempleSquare and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.com/viewers-listeners/airing-schedules.

See the Church News’ archive of ‘Spoken Word’ messages