Introductions in Capitol Rotunda
I spent almost two decades working for the State of Minnesota. Mostly, at the State Capitol. I worked for a Senator in the Republican Senate Caucus, As a Constituent Writer and Committee Administrator for the Republican House Caucus, and as Press Secretary and Assistant Communications Director for Democrat Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
I also spent several years working for the Minnesota Department of Veteran’s Affairs as Assistant Director of Communications and Management Analyst IV. I was the project manager for Minnesota’s World War II Memorial Dedication ceremony. Over 25,000 people came to that event.
I experienced a lot of diversity during those years of employment in both political parties, but one thing was always the same. Whether in my office or tacked to a wall in a cube there was a copy of this hymn, “I Vow To Thee My Country.”
The words to this song always remind me of my Uncle Wendell and the thousands of young people just like him who gave their lives for our nation, freedom….and you and me. Their sacrifice was not abstract it was real and personal.
The words to this hymn captures the power of love and sacrifice. Just reading the words would steel my spine on days when:
- it seemed like every taxpayer in the state had yelled into my ear about the senator that was my responsibility.
- frustrated political or bureaucratic leadership got snarky, because they made a dumb decision and felt it was their sworn duty to take it out on staff.
- try as hard as I might there was just no helping a veteran or the family of a veteran.
- an entire nation and world is watching a recount between two senators and, lucky me, got to answer press calls….and calls….and calls.
- Surprise! The complete crash of a neither internally, externally or user-tested new business services online filing system which was foisted on an unsuspecting public and untrained staff the weekend that sales taxes were due. I was instructed keep the issue from the media and help the “really angry” business folks…because I was good at it.
- you are told to go fix the business services online filing system disaster.
During those times and many others, I would read the words to this hymn to remember why it was that I decided to be a civil servant. In my case, it was because I love my country, people and wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, and the military had rejected this girl with the equivalent of one working lung.
Then, I would remind myself that there is no crying in baseball or at the State Capitol and that at least I wasn’t getting shot at.
The people that this song was written about were shot at in World War I. Cecil Spring Rice wrote this poem sometime in either 1908 or 1912. It describes how a Christian’s loyalties are to their God and country.
In 1912, Mr. Rice was appointed Ambassador to the United States of America. He successfully lobbied President Woodrow Wilson to join Britain in its war against the German Kaiser. Before he returned home to Britain, he re-wrote the first verse to emphasize the love and sacrifice of soldiers.
This beautiful patriotic poem was privately distributed among friends and acquaintances for years before it was set to music by Gustav Holst. It was first published as a hymn in 1925 in the Songs of Praise Hymnal.
I hope you enjoy this beautiful patriotic song.
I Vow To Thee My Country
I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.
God Bless all of our soldiers and their families! Thank you!