Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Baton Rouge Louisiana Temple

Sunday, May 25, 2014

God Bless America...

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, but it will be business as usual in the LABRM office, not just because it's transfer week, but also preparations for our new President are in "full speed ahead" mode. So this will just be a brief tribute to the men and women who've made the ultimate sacrifice that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms that we do. It's a good thing that Elder Lauper thoroughly devours the newspaper every day or we wouldn't have know about an event that occurred yesterday.  

The Baton Rouge community gathered at the capitol building to honor members of the Armed Services who have given their lives. 10,000 flags, placed on the Capitol's front lawn by the Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana, waved in the breeze, representing the 10,000 men and women from Louisiana who died while serving in the US military.

Isn't it nice to know that people still care about what the true meaning of Memorial Day is--Our Nation's Fallen Heroes! Louisiana has a rich tradition of military service. The LSU mascot came from the "Fighting Tigers Brigade." It was the "fiercest battalion of the Confederate Army and the most feared group around in the Battle of Bull Run." Also, per capita, Louisiana has provided more servicemen and women than any other state. "Louisiana understands and believes in service--particularly when it comes to military service."

During yesterday's program a mother, whose Marine Sergeant son was killed in Afghanistan last year, read the classic World War I poem, "In Flanders Field," written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The names were read of all 10,000 who've died, and the program was concluded with "Amazing Grace" by the Baton Rouge Pipes and Drums and a single trumpet playing Taps.

I want to include "In Flanders Field" in this post because of it's poignant message and because of President Monson's love for it. I've heard him quote it more than once. In his April 1994 General Conference address, speaking about peace and World War II he said: "Overlooked, or at least set aside, was the hauntingly touching appeal of one who had fallen in an earlier war. He seemed to be writing in behalf of millions of comrades--friend and foe alike.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Marc and I just finished watching the 25th Annual National Memorial Day Concert from the lawn of the US Capitol. I won't need to remove mascara before going to bed. What an emotional evening. I was taking a ton of notes to include with this  missive but have decided that anyone can probably access whatever I could have said, so I'll just make a few notes and end with a quote from General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

#1. I loved the tributes to fallen and living heroes, and, yes, they are heroes. But there are thousands of other untold stories just like theirs. I honor them also, because they gave their lives to continue to make it possible for me to live and do and love and think and serve and choose. Thank you Michael, Steve, Uncle Don, Uncle Karl, other family and friends. You are all heroes!

#2. As Marc reminded me, quoting from something he read, "There are no atheists in foxholes."

#3. Gary Senise said to "pray for a time when there will be no war." We know that time is coming. We just don't know when. 

#4. This wasn't sung tonight but seems appropriate. 
        O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!
        America! America! May God thy gold refine Till all success be nobleness, And ev'ry gain divine!

#5. Some of General Dempsey's comments: He received a letter from a mother who lost her daughter in Afghanistan.
She said: "The grief never goes away, but there is room for sorrow and joy, sadness and hope to exist in the same space at the same time. Grief is not a lack of faith or a sign of weakness. It's the price of love. That love is yours to hold forever."

General Dempsey's remarks: "Memorial Day is foremost about remembrance of America's sons and daughters from every corner of the country and every branch of service who gave their lives that we may live free. It's also about love and about hope, but it gives us, the living, a chance to cherish the freedom that we now hold dear and embrace the future we may now choose to dream. It gives us the opportunity, all citizens everywhere, to reconnect to our national purpose--to secure the blessings of liberty."

#6. Concluding song--"God Bless America." And He will as long as there are those who love and serve Him. 

2 Nephi 4:4 "For the Lord God hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall deep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land, and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.''

It's up to us!

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