Posted by: jhvn | 05/29/2014

A Geezer’s Memorial Day Prayer

With the real Memorial Day coming up tomorrow, and the government sanctioned Memorial Day last Mon., this Geezer has been pondering all the wars he remembers since World War II, as well as World War I that his parents remembered.

The pondering began when our Town Moderator asked me to give the prayer at the Memorial Day celebration at the Town Common following the town parade that was held last Monday.

I know of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists as well as a variety of Christians in our town as well as a HIndu meditation center and an annual Native American pow wow in adjoining towns.

How to shape a prayer that all these religious folks could endorse?

How to honor those who have given their lives for our country without endorsing all the policies that led to wars?

How to express deep patriotic appreciation for American democratic values and ideals that have lighted the way not only for the United States but for the world, without glossing over the disgraceful failures of our government to honor and practice those values in our own country, and for our own people?

These dilemmas have been rolling around in my head ever since that phone call by the moderator.

So here’s the prayer I gave. I would deeply appreciate comments.

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;
God of Moses and the prophets;
God of Jesus and Muhammad;
God of Buddhist consciousness and Hindu rebirth;
Great Spirit of the Native people of this land, known in the winds of the North, South, East, and West;
God – the Source of our life and the Ground of our being;

We stand before You in awe –
marveling with the Psalmist: who are we humans that you know us?
and the children of us humans that you care about us?

We gather today to honor those who have served in the armed forces of the United States,
and who have served as early responders in fire, police, and rescue services in our local communities –
we honor those who have given their lives to create and to preserve a way of life
that honors the values we have learned from our great religious traditions –
values we have enshrined in our national identity:

In God we trust;
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
Government of the people, by the people, and for the people;
Liberty and justice for all.

Enable our United States to give life to these values
for which so many have given their lives.

As we feel the wind blowing through our hair,
Heighten our awareness of the wind of your Spirit, Great God, blowing through our hearts,
to give us the wisdom and courage to make our own lives count
in maintaining those values in our lives,
in our families,
and in our community.

So Be It. Amen.


  1. John, a great prayer. It should be the standard model I’ve been troubled by the insensitive and simplistic prayers that have been “out there” asking us to send their recommended to every body…. a prayer in which all soldiers are described as motivated to live and die for our country (never mind atrocities, rape of fellow soldiers, male/ female)…and one I received demonizing all law makers, not mentioning that not only are some law makers acting and thinking out of their integrity, but that some of the legislators are themselves veterans !


    • Thanks, Bill. It has taken until my geezerhood till I could figure out how to do this with integrity. I’m a slow learner.


  2. John, I liked your very inclusive prayer. It reminded me to think about a song I like to hear. “All God’s people get to sing in the choir” a good rendition is performed by the Celtic Thunder.
    We are all God;s people.

    • Thanks Carole. I don’t know that song, but it sounds good.

  3. Well done, John!!

    This is a keeper. Inclusive,humble,deep in massage.

    Nice job, my friend!


    • Thanks, Bob.

  4. Good idea to post. Liked it all over again!

    • Thanks, Bob

  5. body{font-size:10pt;font-family:arial,sans-serif;background-color:#ffffff;color:black;}p{margin:0px;}My dear friend and geezer,It is magnificent to me.  Gentle, honoring and clear, I do hope you felt good while delivering it.  I felt the good in reading it.Love,Rupa

    • Thanks, Rupa. I did feel good about it at the time, and even more so now receiving your comments and others.

  6. I love your prayer and the deep thought you put in to it. Holding all traditions to be valid and sacred is a way we show our love of God
    and the god within each of us. Good job Geezer!

    • Thanks, Fran. It’s taken me a few years to get to where this can come through.

  7. Good Morning John,

    Bring on the Geezer’s prayer! You nailed it~!

    The way in which you addressed was strong, clear, direct and true. It’s one of the most inclusive addresses to the source of the sacred I have ever heard.

    Your prayer is another of those beautiful expressions of the divine that will catch people hearts and make them “feel” as well as “think”.

    I will be sending it along to some selected family and friends, if you have no objections.

    Thanks and Peace,


    Sent from my iPad


    • Thanks Gary. Send it to whomever you like. If it does what you say, I’ll be pleased.


  8. John, I like this! Your poetry with the wind is very moving, and you have found a way to tie together the efforts of fallen folk with both the wonders and the horrors of this country. Thank you for posting it. Must see you this summer!! July very likely.

    • Thanks, Peggy. I look forward to seeing you this summer.

  9. Reblogged this on Writing Out Loud and commented:
    And not to forget the Geezer. Nice work John!

  10. Well done. Thank you for your service, both as a soldier and an orator.

    • I don’t see myself as either a soldier or an orator in the ususal sense of those words, but I do get your appreciation. Thanks.

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