The first prayer in U.S. Congress, delivered by the Rev. J. Duche, chaplain on Dec. 17, 1777

“O Lord, our heavenly Father, High and Mighty, King of King and Lord of lords, who dost from the Throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all kingdoms; look down in mercy we beseech three on these American States, who have fled to thee from the rod of the oppressor, and thrown themselves on thy gracious protection desiring henceforth to be dependent only on thee.

“To Thee they have appealed for the righteousness of their cause. To Thee do they look up for that countenance and support which thou alone canst give. Tale them therefore Heavenly Father under thy nurturing care. Give them wisdom in counsel and valor in field. Defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adyersaries. Convince them of the unrighteousness of their cause, and if they persist in their sanguinary purpose, O let the voice of thy own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop their weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle.

“Be Thou present, O God of wisdom and direct the counsels of this honorable assembly. Enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation; that the scent of blood may speedily be closed, that order, order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice and religion and piety may prevail and flourish among Thy people. Preserve the health of their bodies and the vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they represent for them in this world, and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come.

“All this we ask in the name of and though the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Savior. Amen.”


History of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 and officially made the national anthem by Congress in 1931, although it already had been adopted as such by the Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, and the Army.

On Sept. 13, 1814 , Key visited the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes, who had been captured after the burning of Washington , D.C. The release was secured, but Key was detained on ship overnight during the shelling of Fort McHenry , one of the forts defending Baltimore . In the morning, he was so delighted to see the American flag still flying over the fort that he began a poem to commemorate the occasion.

O say, can you see, by the
dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at
the twilight's last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd,
were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets' red glare, the
bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that
our flag was still there.

O say, does that star-spangled
banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the
home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro'
the mists of the deeps,
Where the foe's haughty host in
dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze,
o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half
conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the
morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now
shines on the stream:

‘Tis the star-spangled banner:
O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the
home of the brave!

And where is that band who so
vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the
battle's confusion,
A home and a country should
leave us no more?

Their blood has wash'd out
their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the
hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the
gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner
in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the
home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when free-men
shall stand
Between their lov'd home and
the war's desolation;

Blest with vict'ry and peace.
may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath
made and preserv'd us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when
our cause it is just,
And this be our motto:
‘In God is our trust!'

And the star-spangled banner
in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the
home of the brave!


We get labeled with our political views

My word, but we do love labels. No, I don't mean those on soup or bean cans. I am referring to those we put on people.

Once we label folks we really don't have to deal with them. We can ignore their complexities and relate to them in shorthand, simplified manner.

“Oh yes,” we say, “old Andy is a conservative,” as if we need no more identification. “Well,” we whisper to a friend, “what do you expect her to say? After all, she is a liberal.”

Many still subscribe to the virtues of categorizing people into these two ideologies, but most informed people realize that the terms “conservative” and “liberal” describe neither a political philosophy nor a kind of people. We have reduced the differences between the two people to disagreements over policies designed to achieve comparable values.

To put it differently, the labels have evolved. Most liberals I know are conservative on economic issues. But they also see themselves as social liberals.

Conservatives believe that somewhere along the way, society took a wrong turn; liberals agree. Both sides likely will differ on when that turn took place or how best to correct it. One set of believers will talk about family or traditional values; the other will respond with concerns about social issues. But they usually do agree that significant changes are in order.

Both sides are committed to free the market from bureaucratic interference. Both suffer the same frustrations that leave them demoralized about the progress made in this area. Again the problem is what policies will free us from government restrictions.

In the old days, conservatives and liberals devoted energy to describing the dangers of socialism, fascism, communism and totalitarianism. Now both sides are more in agreement that the danger to democracy comes less from totalitarian and collectivist movements abroad and more from the erosion of cultural and spiritual forces within.

Certainly there are those on the far left and the far right who have their own specific agendas. They reject any efforts to reach a compromise between viewpoints or seek to reconcile differences, believing they – and only they – have the TRUTH required to save people and country. They are not interested in reaching a moral consensus that challenges the “facts” they possess.

Will differences continue to exist? Of course, but not in the traditional conservative/liberal dichotomies, except for those who want to continue simplistic identifications because they are unwilling to see and deal with the similarities that are increasingly emerging.

Besides becoming antiquated. The old ideologies aren't getting us anywhere. The old arguments are counterproductive and divisive. Coming together to include, rather than exclude, people makes more sense than maintaining narrow one-dimensional views of the past and present.

Frankly speaking, I have always had the label as a liberal Democrat. However, I believe we all change our political views as we get older. I do not believe in the Status Que. I've been there and done that. I have always said, however, if anyone can tell me just “one” benefit we receive today that the Republican Party is responsible for, I will reregister as a Republican. Yes, they did help the very rich while the middle class received peanuts with the tax refund recently under the Bush Administration.

If you should ask me about benefits that we are now receiving that was made into law and implemented by the Democrats, I can name dozens of them. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, are only starters.


“I don't believe in labels. I want to do the best I can, all the time. I want to be progressive without getting both feet off the ground at the same time. I want to be prudent without having my mind closed to anything that is new or different. I have often said that I was proud that I was a free man first and an American second, and a public servant third and a Democrat fourth, in that order, and I guess as a Democrat, if I had to take – place a label on myself, I would want to be a progressive who is prudent.”

President LYNDON B. JOHNSON, television and radio interview, March 15, 1964.



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