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September 17, 2016 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 813-835-0129

September 11, 2001 with its catastrophic impact on our nation and the world was referenced by my Pastor in yesterday’s sermon.  Pastor Alex was fifteen years old when the Trade Center was demolished by terrorists.  I was only seventy and I cannot remember what I was doing when the news began to fill the airways.  I do remember that my wife and I had just returned from a visit to my daughter Grace in Belmar, New Jersey.  We had gone to New York for a matinée performance of “Phantom of the Opera.”  On the way home we were admiring the twin towers as we drove along the highway.

Shortly after returning to Tampa the Twin Towers were attacked.  It was a Tuesday.  In less than an hour both towers had collapsed.  Almost three thousand persons were killed and over six thousand were injured.

What I do remember was the impact on the people of our nation.  The next Sunday our houses of worship were full.  In recalling the reaction a hymn written by Rudyard Kipling in 1897 came to mind.

“God of our fathers, known of old; Lord of our far flung battle lines; Beneath whose awful hand we hold dominion over palm and pine; Lord God of Hosts be with us yet lest we forget – Lest we forget.”

When we cannot make sense of the world we turn to the Sovereign of the universe who we hope can help us understand and bring some comfort and some solace in the midst of pain.  However, the spark of wisdom often goes out before igniting the hearth of the heart.

We seldom sing the last stanza of our national anthem.   It was written against the background of the war of 1812.  The British had just burned Washington and were attacking Fort McHenry in Baltimore by sea.  Francis Scott Key was a young poet who was observing the battle and was anxious in the morning light to see whether the flag of the United States was still flying over the fort.  It was.  On September 14, 1814 he penned the words of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  The last stanza reads as follows.

“O thus be it ever when free men shall stand between their loved homes and war’s desolation; Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land praise the Power that hath made and preserved 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.”

Tomorrow, Sunday, September 18 is designated as “Back to Church Sunday.”  If my memory serves me correctly it used to be called “Rally Day.”  It provides us with an opportunity to remember the sovereign God who is the “Author of liberty.”  In Kipling’s words in his final stanza of “God of Our Fathers:”  “Judge of the nations, spare us yet, lest we forget.”

“America! America! God mend thine every flaw; confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.”

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at  END-whs