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161107 November 7, 2016

Veteran's Day Thoughts
Tommy Towery
Maj. USAF (Ret.)
LHS '64
           This year I am going to stray a little from my normal Veteran's Day issue in which I have traditionally recognized those classmates who served. 

        The timing is off a bit for me to do a Veteran's Day issue on time, but I still have a few things to share. I know this week's election will impact us and our future lives, and I hope no friendships are broken by the results. Remember, it is the veterans who have preserved our freedom and our right to vote.

        So, besides the election, this is also a week to remember our veterans, and I have spent the last couple of days working on a Sunday School lesson based on military music. In a world where political correctness has risen to new heights, I find myself wondering how much longer some of these songs will be popular, or will they go the way of many other traditions which are now being questioned.

        But, as long as I am still able to do so, I would like to share three songs with my classmates, and especially those of you who have worn the uniform of a branch of service.

        The first song is one which us Southerners sometimes found politically incorrect, even back then, but today it still endures. That song is "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." I found an interesting video about it on Youtube and want to share it with you. I always associated it with the Union infantry.

History of the Battle Hymn of the Republic

The Battle Hymn of the Republic

        The next one I present is one many folks never knew existed. It is officially recognized as The United States Navy Hymn, but was written as "Eternal Father, Strong to Save." You can read about it by clicking this link 

Navy Hymn

        The Marines changed the first verse a bit and use this version:

Eternal Father, grant, we pray
To all Marines, both night and day
The courage, honor, strength, and skill
Their land to serve, Thy law fulfill
Be Thou the shield forevermore
From every peril to the Corps.
-J.E. Seim, 1966

        The other song is a similar song, but has been adopted as "The Air Force Hymn." The original name for this hymn is "Lord Guard and Guide the Men Who Fly."

        Click this link for more info:

Lord Guard and Guide

Lord, guide and guide the men who fly
Through the great spaces of the sky;
Be with them traversing the air
In darkening storms or sunshine fair.

Thou who dost keep with tender might
The balanced birds in all their flight,
Thou of the tempered winds, be near,
That, having Thee, they know no fear.

Control their minds with instinct fit
What time, adventuring, they quit
The firm security of land;
Grant steadfast eye and skillful hand.

Aloft in solitudes of space,
Uphold them with Thy saving grace.
O God, protect the men who fly
Through lonely ways beneath the sky.

        I know most of you are aware of the other songs that will be played around the country this Veteran's Day, and I hope you now know a little bit more about a lessen known group.

        Thank you to all Veterans and to the families who supported them.

        God Bless America.

        Memphis, TN - Get out and vote this week, and don't forget to thank a Veteran for preserving our right to do so.

My brother Don (back), my mother, and me and our TV on East Clinton Street.

The Vintage Television
Tommy Towery
LHS '64
The Sixties Sign Off
High Flight

        I fondly remember back in the Fifties and Sixties that at least one of the three television stations I watched would always air a short video featuring an Air Force jet accompanying a poem being read. This aired around midnight, just before the National Anthem and the sign-off test pattern of the television station before signing off and shutting down for the night. I always wondered exactly why they showed it, but never found out for sure. I am positive it would not be politically correct to show these days, and that makes me sad. Yes, our grandkids would never believe we only had three channels and they all shut down at night. The version below was filmed in color, but we only had a black and white TV set, so to me it was always remembered being in black and white.

        Later in my Air Force days, I was once again exposed to the poem, only under much more depressing circumstances. "High Flight" was the name of the poem and later I found it was a favorite poem to be read at funerals of airmen. I have shed many tears at those funerals when listening to these words.

        John Gillespie Magee, Jr., who wrote it, was an American aviator and poet, made famous for his poem High Flight. Magee served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined before the United States entered the war; he died in a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire in 1941.

High Flight



From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Accordian

Mike Crowl

LHS '65

    Thanks, Rainer for the memories.The only music instruments in my family were the accordion and harmonica. My father was a master of both. He so wanted one of his children to learn to play one of these instruments. There was me, my brother, and two sisters. My father started with the oldest and passed down the instruments to each of us. To his surprise, he concluded none of us were musically endowed!

    Thanks again for your story. I can still see my father playing that accordion and harmonica, he was amazing with both. 

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