Suggestive programs for special day exercises/Our Nations Birthday

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2508127Suggestive programs for special day exercises — Our Nations BirthdayJason Elmer Hammond

A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty is worth a whole eternity of bondage.—Webster.




SongThe Flag of Seventy-six.

Reading—The Declaration of Independence.

Class ExerciseThe Poets’ Praise of Freedom.

SongThe Sword of Bunker Hill.

RecitationGrandfather’s Fourth.

Singing by SchoolCentennial Hymn.

RecitationIndependence Bell.

Address—By some School Officer or Patron.

SongThe Star Spangled Banner.

RecitationThe Revolutionary Rising.

Song—Rally Round the Flag.

RecitationWarren’s Address.


ReadingHow “America” came to be written.

Singing by School—America.

The schools should teach patriotism. Independence Day should be celebrated by them in such a manner as to impress its lessons indelibly upon the minds of future citizens; it should be celebrated during the school year, for children can thus be taught its value. I trust every school in our great State will so celebrate this day.—Jason E. Hammond.

“Patriotism is one of the positive lessons to be taught in every school. Everything learned should be flavored with a genuine love of country. Every glorious fact in the nation’s history should be emphasized and lovingly dwelt upon. The names of her illustrious citizens should be treasured in the memory. Every child should feel as though he is entitled to a share, not only in the blessings conferred by a free government, but also in the rich memories and glorious achievements of his country.”


Wake the song to the nation’s defenders,
The years of prosperity glow;
The natal day welcome that renders
The love that to valor we owe;
Wake the song where our fathers, undaunted,
Proclaimed, when the nation was new,
That their ensign for liberty planted
Should be to the Right ever true.
To the Right, to the Right ever true,
To the Right, to the Right ever true.
The ensign for liberty planted,
Should be to the Right ever true.

When the Red Cross of England contended
With the Lilies of France, in their might,
Our fathers arose and defended
For freedom, the cause of the Right;
Then dared they the sceptre to sever;
For the Right, the far, forest ways they trod,
And templed the fair hills, wherever
Their faces were lifted to God.

Again at this altar that binds us,
The faith of the past we’ll renew,—
Two hundred years fading behind us,
A thousand years rising to view.
And as long as the fair constellations
Shall lighten the heavens with gold,
Shall the banner of right be the Nation's
And ever for right be unrolled.


He lay upon his dying bed,
His eyes were growing dim,
When with a feeble voice he called
His weeping son to him.
“Weep not. my boy,” the veteran said,
“I bow to heaven’s high will.
But quickly from yon antlers bring
The Sword of Bunker Hill.”

The sword was brought; the soldier’s eyes
Lit with a sudden flame.
And as he grasped the ancient blade.
He murmured Warren’s name,
Then said: ”My boy, I leave you gold.
But what is better still,
I leave you, mark me, mark me now.
The Sword of Bunker Hill.

“’Twas on that dread immortal day
We dared the British band,
A captain raised this sword on me,
I tore it from his hand.
And as the awful battle raged,
It lighted freedom’s will;
For, boy, the God of freedom blessed
The Sword of Bunker Hill.

“O keep the sword, and should the foe
Again invade our land.
My soul will shout from heaven to see
It flame in your right hand;
For ’twill be double sacrilege
If where sunk tyrant—ill
Power dare to strike Man’s rights won by
The Sword of Bunker Hill.
’O keep the sword; you know what’s in
The handle’s hollow there:
It shrines, will always shrine, that lock
Of Washington’s own hair.
The terror of oppression's here:
Despots! your own graves fill.
O’er Vernon’s gift God’s seal is on
The Sword of Bunker Hill.“

“O keep the sword”—his accents broke;
A smile, and he was dead—
But his wrinkled hands still grasped the blade
Upon that dying bed.
The son remains, the sword remains.
Its glory growing still.
And fifty millions bless the sire
And sword of Bunker Hill.


When Freedom on her natal day
Within her war-rocked cradle lay,
An iron race around her stood,
Baptized her infant born in blood;
And through the storm which round her swept
Their constant ward and watching kept.

Thy spirit. Independence, let me share;
Lord of the lion heart and eagle eye,
Thy steps I follow with my bosom bare.
Nor heed the storm that howls along the sky.

Freedom has a thousand charms to show,
That slaves, howe’er contented, never know.


The torch of freedom God has lit
Burns upward for the Infinite,
And through all hindrances it will
And must and shall burn upward still,

The love of liberty with life is given,
And life itself the inferior gift of heaven.


Freedom's battle once begun
Bequeathed by bleeding sire to son,
Though baffled oft is ever won.


Since first I heard our north wind blow,
Since first I saw Atlantic throw
On our fierce rocks his thunderous snow,
I loved thee, Freedom.


Give me again my hollow tree,
A crust of bread, and liberty!


My angel—his name is Freedom—
Choose him to be your king;
He shall cut pathways east and west,
And ’tend you with his wing.


Is true freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake.
And, with leathern hearts, forget
That we owe mankind a debt?
No!—true freedom is to share
All the chains our brother wear,
And with heart and hand to be
Earnest to make others free!


(Note—This should be arranged as a class exercise, each pupil who takes part naming the author from whom he quotes.)


Grandfather Watts used to tell us boys
That a Fourth wa'n't a Fourth without any noise.
He would say, with a thump of his hickory stick,
That it made an American right down sick
To see his sons on the Nation’s day
Sit round in a sort of a listless way.
With no oration and no train-band,
No fire-work show and no root-beer stand,
While his grandsons, before they were out of bibs,
Were ashamed—Great Scott!!—to fire off squibs.

And so each Independence morn
Grandfather Watts took his powder horn.
And the flint-lock shotgun his father had
When he fought under Schuyler, a country lad.
And Grandfather Watts would start and tramp
Ten miles to the woods at Beaver Camp;
For Grandfather Watts used to say—and scowl—
That a decent chipmunk or woodchuck or owl
Was better company, friendly or shy,
Than folks who didn't keep Fourth of July.
And so he would pull his hat down on his brow,
And march to the woods, sou’east by sou’.

But once—ah! long, long years ago.
For grandfather’s gone where good men go—
One hot, hot Fourth, by ways of our own,
Such short-cuts as boys have always known,
We hurried and followed the dear old man
Beyond where the wilderness began.
To the deep, black woods at the foot of the Hump,
And there was a clearing and a stump—

A stump in the hearth of a great wide wood;
And there on that stump our grandfather stood,
Talking and shouting out there in the sun,
And firing that funny old flint-lock gun
Once in a minute, his head all bare,
Having his Fourth of July out there—
The Fourth of July he used to know
Back in eighteen-and-twenty or so.

First, with his face to the heaven’s blue,
He read the “Declaration” through;
And then, with gestures to left and right.
He made an oration erudite.
Full of words six syllables long;
And then our grandfather broke into song.
And scaring the squirrels in the trees.
Gave “Hail Columbia” to the breeze.
And I tell you, the old man never heard
When we joined in the chorus, word for word!
But he sang out strong to the bright, blue sky,
And if voices joined in his Fourth of July,
He heard them as echoes from days gone by.

And when he had done, we all slipped back,
As still we came, on our twisting track;
While words more clear than flint-lock shots
Rang in our ears.
And Grandfather Watts?
He shouldered the gun his father bore,
And marched off home, nor’west by nor’.


There was tumult in the city,
In the quaint old Quaker town,
And the streets were rife with people
Pacing restless up and down,—
People gathering at corners,
Where they whispered each to each,
And the sweat stood on their temples
With the earnestness of speech.

“Will they do it?” “Dare they do it?”
“Who is speaking?” “What’s the news?”
“What of Adams?” “What of Sherman?”
“Oh, God grant they won’t refuse!”
“Make some way there!” “Let me nearer!“
“I am stifling!” “Stifle then!
When a nation's life’s at hazzard,
We’ve no time to think of men!

So they beat against the portal,
Man and woman, maid and child;
And the July sun in heaven
On the scene looked down and smiled;
The same sun that saw the Spartan
Shed his patriot blood in vain,
Now beheld the soul of freedom,
All unconquered, rise again.

See! See! The dense crowd quivers
Through all its lengthy line,
As the boy beside the portal
Looks forth to give the sign!
With his little hands uplifted,
Breezes dallying with his hair,
Hark! with deep, clear intonation,
Breaks his young voice on the air.

Hushed the people’s swelling murmur,
List the boy’s exultant cry!
“Ring!” he shouts, “ring! grandpa,
Ring! oh, RING for LIBERTY!”
Quickly at the given signal
The old bell-man lifts his hand,
Forth he sends the good news, making
Iron music through the land.

How they shouted! What rejoicing!
How the old bell shook the air,
Till the clang of freedom ruffled
The calmly gliding Delaware!
How the bonfires and the torches
Lighted up the night’s repose,
And from the flames, like fabled Phoenix,
Our glorious liberty arose!
That Old State House bell is silent,
Hushed is now its clamorous tongue;
But the spirit it awakened,
Still is living—ever young;
And when we greet the smiling sunlight,
On the Fourth of each July,
We will ne'er forget the bell-man
Who, betwixt the earth and sky,
Rung out loudly, “Independence!”
Which, please God, shall never die!



Out of the north the wild news came,
Far flashing on its wings of flame,
Swift as the boreal light which flies
At midnight through the startled skies—

And there was tumult in the air:

The fife’s shrill note, the drum’s loud beat,

And through the wide land everywhere

The answering tread of hurrying feet;

While the first oath of freedom’s gun
Came on the blast from Lexington,
And Concord roused, no longer tame,
Forgot her old baptismal name.
Made bare her patriot arm of power.
And swelled the discord of the hour.

Within its shade of elm and oak

The church of Berkeley Manor stood.

There Sunday found the rural folk,

And some esteemed of gentle blood.

In vain their feet with loitering tread

Passed midst the graves where rank is naught,

All could not read the lessons taught

In that republic of the dead.

How sweet the hour of Sabbath talk.

The vale with peace and sunshine full,

Where all the happy people walk.

Decked in their homespun flax and wool;

Where youth’s gay hats with blossoms bloom,

And every maid with simple art.
Wears on her breast, like her own heart,

A bud whose depths are all perfume;

While every garment's gentle stir
Is breathing rose and lavender.

The pastor came; his snowy locks

Hallowed his brow with thought and care;

And calmly, as shepherds lead their flocks.

He led into the house of prayer.

Then soon he rose: the prayer was strong;
The Psalm was warrior David’s song; The text, a few short words of might—

“The Lord of hosts shall arm the right!”

He spoke of wrongs too long endured,
Of sacred rights to be secured.

Then from his patriot tongue of flame
The startling words for Freedom came.
The stirring sentences he spake
Compelled the heart to glow or quake;
And, rising on the theme’s broad wing.
And grasping in his nervous hand
The imaginary battle-brand.
In face of death he dared to fling
Defiance to a tyrant king.

Even as he spoke, his frame, renewed
In eloquence of attitude,
Rose, as it seemed, a shoulder higher.
Then swept his kindling glance of fire
From startled pew to breathless choir;
When suddenly his mantle wide
His hands impatiently flung aside,
And, lol he met their wondering eyes
Complete in all a warrior’s guise.

A moment there was awful pause—
When Berkeley cried, “Cease, traitor! cease!
God’s temple is the house of peace!”

The other shouted, “Nay, not so,

When God is with our righteous cause;
His holiest places then are ours,
His temples are our forts and towers

That frown upon the tyrant foe;

In this the dawn of freedom’s day,
There is a time to fight and pray!“

And now before the open door—

The warrior priest had ordered so—

The enlisting triumphs sudden roar
Rang through the chapel o’er and o’er.

Its long reverberating blow.

So loud and clear, it seemed the ear
Of dusty death must wake and hear.
And there the startling drum and fife
Fired the living with fiercer life:
While overhead, with wild increase,
Forgetting its ancient toil of peace,

The great bell swung as ne’er before.

It seemed as it would never cease;
And every word its order flung
From off its jubilant iron tongue,

Was, War! War! WAR!

“Who dares”—this was the patriot’s cry,
As striding from the desk he came—
“Come out with me, in Freedom’s name
For her to live, for her to die?”
A hundred hands flung up reply,
A hundred voices answered, “I.”


Stand! the ground’s your own, my braves!
Will ye give it up to slaves,
Will ye look for greener graves,
Hope ye mercy still?
What's the mercy despots feel?
Hear it in that battle peal.
Read it on yon bristling steel.
Ask it, ye who will!

Fear ye foes who kill for hire,
Will ye to your homes retire?
Look behind you! they’re afire,
And, before you, see
Who have done it! From the vale
On they come, and will ye quail?
Leaden rain and iron hail
Let their welcome be!

In the God of battles trust!
Die we may—and die we must;
But oh, where can dust to dust
Be consigned so well,
As where heaven its dews shall shed
On the martyred patriot's bed.
And the rocks shall raise their head
Of his deeds to tell!



America! Mine!
Ay, comrades, and thine.
Thy very name ripples with music, and rolls
Like the oceans that surge 'twixt the mystical poles.
Land of great Boone,
Of Marion, Wayne;
Of Hamilton, Jefferson, Washington, Blaine;
Of thousands that lived and died all too soon,
Who beat out broad paths for new feet to tread.
From the time when the first white man met the first red,
Down to Crockett’s and Bowie’s,—they of the band
Who for liberty died by the old Rio Grande!
The Alamo forget not, nor for what that band died,
While reason sits throned in its glorious pride.
And worship our Kearneys, our Grants, and the brave
Who enriched the old earth the old Union to save!
My dear native land!
I lift my right hand,
With my left on my heart and my eyes to the skies
And my soul on my tongue.
While I list to the breezes that, mayhap, have sung
Round the world since the dawn of creation tore the veil of the
long night apart, —
My very heart cries:
To be born in thee, be of thee, breathe thy sweet air,
To die in thee, rest in thee, under the glare
Of the sun and the moon and the stars and the folds
Of the stars and the bars of thy banner, which holds
Over all that which monarchs despise—
Liberty, brotherhood, union, and all;
Here on the sod.
Under night’s pall,
I cry out “Thank God!”
America! Mine!
Ay, any man’s—thine!
Thine from the jungle, from Africa’s plain.
From the knout, from the chain;
From the land where the mothers of conscripts’ tears flow
Like the rain,
When the flesh of their flesh and the bone of their bone march
away to fight, wound, and be slain;
From the fair land of Austria, Italy, Spain;
From Erin, whose woe
Fills the hearts of republics with horror and pain.
This land of the free is for thee!
Live in it, work in, love in, weep in it,
Laugh in it, sing in it, die in it, sleep in it!
For it’s free and for thee and for me;
The fairest
And rarest
That ever man trod,
The sweetest and dearest
’Twixt the sky and the sod;
And it’s mine,
And it’s thine,
Thank God!

(From Old Glory Speaker,—H. R. Pattengill, Publisher.)


(From the autobiography of S. F. Smith.)

The hymn “America” was the fruit of examining a number of music books and songs for German public schools, placed in my hand by Lowell Mason, Esq.

Falling in with the tune of one of them, now called “America,” and being pleased with its simple and easy movement, I glanced at the German words and, seeing that they were patriotic, instantly felt the impulse to write a patriotic hymn of my own to the same tune. Seizing a scrap of waste paper, I put upon it within half an hour the verses substantially the same as they stand today.

I did not propose to write a national hymn. I did not know that I had done so. The whole matter passed out of my mind. A few weeks afterwards I sent to Mr. Mason some translations and other poems; this must have chanced to be among them. This occurred in February, 1832. To my surprise I found later that he had incorporated it into the programme for the celebration of the 4th of July, 1832, in Park Street Church, Boston. I have since heard it sung in many languages, more than half-way round the world, the latest translation of it which I have seen being into the Hebrew. When it was composed, I was profoundly impressed with the necessary relation between love of God and love of country; and I rejoice if the expression of my own sentiments and convictions still finds an answering chord in the hearts of my countrymen.


O, say, can you see by the dawn's early light.
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming;
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there;—
O, say, does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep.
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream;
’Tis the Star Spangled Banner,—O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band that so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country shall leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of fight or the gloom of the grave;
And the Star Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever, when Freedom shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
And 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.


Our father’s God! from out whose hand
The centuries fall like grains of sand,
We meet today, united, free,
And loyal to our land and thee.
To thank thee for the era done,
And trust thee for the opening one.
Here, where of old, by thy design.
The fathers spake that word of thine,
Whose echo is the glad refrain
Of rended bolts and falling chain,—
To grace our festal time, from all
The zones of earth our guests we call.

Be with us while the New World greets
The Old World thronging all its streets,
Unveiling all the triumphs won
By art or toil beneath the sun;
And unto common good ordain
The rivalship of hand and brain.

Thou who hast here in concord furled
The war-flags of a gathered world,
Beneath our western skies fulfill
The Orient’s mission of good will;
And freighted with love’s golden fleece,
Send back the Argonauts of peace.
For art and labor met in truce,
For beauty made the bride of use,
We thank thee, while withal we crave
The austere virtues strong to save;
The honor, proof to place or gold,
The manhood, never bought or sold.

O! make thou us through centuries long,
In peace secure, in justice strong;
Around our gift of freedom draw
The safeguards of thy righteous law;
And, cast in some diviner mold.
Let the new cycle shame the old!

Note.—The music for this is found in Riverside Song Book.