Fort McHenry Prayer

Posted by Al Hathaway Saturday, March 5, 2011


Prayer for the Dedication of the New Visitor and Education Center at The Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, March 3, 2011

By: Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr., Senior Pastor, Union Baptist Church

Let us pray: We come on this occasion seeking a deeper meaning of what it means to be an American Citizen. We are tied together in a tapestry of human mutuality. On this occasion we seek the opportunity to peer through the lens of history to understand who we are and whose we are. It is by understanding the treads of our mosaic of mutual freedom and commonality that our lives are enriched and our spirits revived.

By understanding our history we gain a greater appreciation for the unseen hand of God that moves within time to touch the hearts, minds and spirits of people.

This is the place that provides us with the concrete evidence of God’s Hand. It was at this place that a simple poem was written to express the unyielding desire of the human spirit for freedom. This simple poem captured the essence of what it means to fight for America’s greater good. This simple poem became “The Star Spangled Banner” America’s national anthem. Its writer, Francis Scott Key, has become an historic iconic figure because of his heart felt poetic expression of divine origin.

The Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine will become that place were people from all over the world and America come to relive those precious moments, to walk the grounds of this sacred space, and to learn of their common bonds and aspirations as citizens. The rolling mounds, picturesque views, and historical artifacts will transport them to the genesis of America’s grand experiment in democracy.

We dedicate on these sacred grounds on this day a New Visitor and Education Center. May it serve untold generations by inspiring them to dream, big dreams; by educating them to strive for personal advancement and enrichment; and by consecrating them to believe in truth, justice and the quest for freedom and equality. This oasis was borne out of struggle. This oasis is our testament to future generations. This oasis will place an imprint on the memory and spirit of its visitors and remind them that the quest for freedom continues to march on.

Bless the exhibits, the guides, the maintenance staff, this building, and the Park Rangers. Bless all those who enter and all those who serve. Entreat them to never forget that we all stand on the shoulders of those who believed that tomorrow would bring a brighter day. We inherit a legacy from people who were willing to sacrifice themselves so we may experience the sweet aroma of freedom.

May we be ever mindful of our charge to continue the march towards freedom, to resist the forces that would divide us, and to embrace the good that is in all of us.

In closing,

“Our hands are on the plough, our faltering hands, and all that is before us, is un-tilted land. The wilderness in its solitary place. The lonely desert with its inner space. The handles of our plough with tears gets wet, the shears with rust are spoiled, and yet. My God, keep us from turning back!”

AMEN

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