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Memorial Day Prayer at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff on 31 May 2021

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O Lord our God and God of generations past,
you commanded us, “remember”:[1] Cf. Deuteronomy 32:7. 
remember, pass on, stories of the past, but also
recall, retell dreams and promises of future, better times.

And so, on this Memorial Day,
At this memorial wall,
I remember and I pray:

I pray we mourn, remember, honor all lives lost
In our armed forces,
In service to our nation.

I invite all others
To join with me in prayer,
But in this world
So scarred by
Sadness, fear and strife,
I know some have given up on prayer,
Some have lost their faith in faith.

For them I ask they join me, at least, to dream;
To reaffirm we have a dream that we can still make a difference,
That we can still change the world.

Dream with me
That those we honor on this day
Will never be forgotten,
But we will build a future
When we need not dig new military graves,
And no new names need be inscribed
on memorials of war;
a time we beat our swords to plowshares
And war will be no more.

After Vietnam, we built this Wall to heal
A nation torn apart by grief and war.
Heal us again, I pray.
Give us courage, strength and wisdom to keep today’s divisions from tearing us apart.

And when we pray, let our lives become our prayers:
Praying with our bodies; praying with our legs,
Standing up for what is right:
For equality, humanity, justice,
Righteousness in what we say and do.

Today, to honor those who sacrificed their lives
Let us embrace old patriotic words –
“The Liberty Song”[2]The Liberty Song” — a pre-American Revolutionary War song with lyrics by Founding Father John Dickinson. The song is set to the tunes of “Heart of Oak”, the anthem of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. The song itself was first published in two colonial newspapers, the Pennsylvania Journal and the Pennsylvania Gazette, both on July 7, 1768.  that once inspired founders of our nation,
And now must touch our hearts, inspire us again:
 
“Join hand in hand, brave Americans all,
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.”[3] From the seventh stanza of “The Liberty Song.” Find note above. 

I pray we can unite and stand. I dream we can unite and stand:
And united through our words, our actions, and our dreams,
proclaim liberty throughout the land.

And let us say, Amen.

 

Notes

Notes
1 Cf. Deuteronomy 32:7.
2 The Liberty Song” — a pre-American Revolutionary War song with lyrics by Founding Father John Dickinson. The song is set to the tunes of “Heart of Oak”, the anthem of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. The song itself was first published in two colonial newspapers, the Pennsylvania Journal and the Pennsylvania Gazette, both on July 7, 1768.
3 From the seventh stanza of “The Liberty Song.” Find note above.

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