Tampering with history

Macy's fireworks in NYCI flipped the TV set over to NBC last night and caught the end of the spectacular Macy’s fireworks show over the Hudson River in New York City. The closing number was the National Anthem, but even more breathtaking was The Battle Hymn of the Republic by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. In a fit of incomprehensible political correctness, the lyrics of Battle Hymn were changed, and while most, I suppose, would find that acceptable, I do not and can not.

Among my earliest memories as a child is an album of my father’s containing various marches from World War II. His generation was exceptional, having conquered evil oceans away. You don’t find the courage to do that in your mind, but you do in your soul, and that’s what Battle Hymn touches. If you read the lyrics, you understand that. People who sang in back then were fighting on behalf of what they believed in, their God and their country.

In the second-to-last verse, one highlighted by the choir’s interpretation at the show, this is especially evident:

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Remember, this is a “battle” hymn, one sung in war, and given that the 4th of July celebrates our independence — a holiday soaked in the blood of our forefathers — you’d think we’d be faithful to that. The third line was changed, however:

As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free…

War is not nice. It’s ugly, and when our young men and women die, we acknowledge their sacrifice. But sacrifice for what? They’ve died, at least in part, “to make men free.”

Call me anything you want, but we do a gross disservice to people like my dad and to our own history altogether when we do things like this to mollify the masses. It is especially egregious, because we’re fighting a war right now.

And here’s the thing: do they think people don’t notice?

We’re got some serious soul-searching to do in this country, because we’re heading down a dangerous path when we tamper with stuff like this.

UPDATE: Wikipedia (among others) notes the following:

In later years, when this song was sung in a non-military environment, the clause “let us die to make men free” was sometimes changed to “let us live to make men free”. This change can be seen in most modern hymnals.

Okay, fair enough. But who decides such things? I certainly didn’t get a vote.

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