Gods Bless America
I don't care where you go, or who gives the speech, or what the occasion. It's just fashionable these days at any patriotic event to end with "God bless America." I mean that politicians say it, or the crowd sings the song, or both.
The phrase "under God" appears in the Gettysburg Address as it's chiseled on the side of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, but there are some versions of the speech that leave that out.
I don't like the phrase "God bless America." Obviously, as a Pagan, I feel that it isn't inclusive enough. But it goes deeper than that.
The idea that God blesses America presupposes that He damns other countries, especially our "enemies." There's also the idea that, as "people of God," we Americans are nicer, kinder, and more loving than other people in other parts of the world. Well, we all know that this isn't true. There are wonderful people everywhere, and the Christian god is believed to bless all of them who ask for it. I don't think a particular deity should be tied to a particular nation, especially a secular nation where lots of people who are nice, kind, and loving don't believe in deity at all.
On the other hand, I can understand why Memorial Day ceremonies include so much God stuff. The vast majority of Americans, especially those who attend Memorial Day ceremonies, are Christians or Jews. For them, the whole "God bless" thing is a comfort and solace. I wouldn't deny people that comfort at a Memorial Day ceremony, but it's pretty annoying at other times and in other political venues.
Snobville holds a Memorial Day ceremony every year, and it is exactly the same every year. The local American Legion post rotates its invite amongst the local churches. This year's official church leader was the local Catholic priest, who, in his Invocation and Benediction ended with "the God who made us all." Pretty cheeky if you ask me. Does God make Hindus and atheists, too? If so, why?
Another perennial tradition in Snobville is to sing "God Bless America." Now this is more my speed. One can easily pluralize the "god" part of it and feel mighty patriotic while singing along.
Gods bless America. Gods bless people who deserve blessings everywhere. Bored gods, don't bother blessing evil people. But do look out for our fallen soldiers. And the soldiers on the other side too. Most of them are just kids who need a job and do what they're told to do. What a shame we can't use them more wisely.