God Bless America

Image by Miriam Zilles from Pixabay

This morning I’m remembering the candlelight vigil in Mission Plaza Park on the night of 9/11 and the interfaith service that followed in Holy Cross Church. After the final hymn concluded, in the moment of silence after the organ notes faded but before the rustling of departure began, a single spontaneous voice began to sing “God Bless America.” A few others joined in, Sister Barbara promptly took it up on the organ, and then we were all singing. It has become a cliché since then, a requisite but routine badge of patriotism, as satisfying and thoughtfree as the seventh inning stretch and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” but that night it was pure and heartfelt.

I want to reclaim that prayer for the land that I love, now threatened in so many more ways from within and without than it was even on that awful day.

Stand beside her, O Beloved, and guide her through the night – through this COVID-19 pandemic, our fight to end racism, wildfires burning from the mountains to the oceans white with foam. Shed your light from above to show us our common ground. God bless America.

Published by

Mary Camille Thomas

Mary Camille Thomas is a native of Santa Cruz, California who considers herself lucky to have returned after living internationally and on the road. She is a librarian by profession, and her poetry has appeared in The Moving Force Journal, Porter Gulch Review, and Sisters Singing. She is currently working on a novel called What Lies Buried and a collection of poems of the spirit.

10 thoughts on “God Bless America”

  1. Mary, this is beautiful and so true! I remember that night at Holy Cross and the way the song started in the back of a packed church. It was so moving. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. God bless our America.


  2. America NEEDS us-our prayers-our faith-our affirmations of goodness and strength in Unity…Thank you. I share in the beauty and power of this song, too often, these days, scoffed at because we have taken a detour. May we all find our way back.
    Important now to check our voting status and insure we put our feet beneath our prayers.


  3. Pure and heartfelt it ought to be since America’s hands are the bloodiest and the most destructive in the world. God bless the Pentagon, which gobbles up MOST of the U.S.’s GNP on an annual basis, might be more to the point.


  4. Beautifully written, Mary. The line “requisite but routine badge of patriotism” resonated with me, as did other phrases. I join you in your desire to “reclaim that prayer for the land that I love.” Thanks for sharing your remembrances surrounding that horrific day. -RB


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