For some unknown reason, history is a passion of mine; I love it, and I never tire of studying it. Luckily, Rickey has always enjoyed it as well, and I’ve been able to research in most of the great libraries and research centers throughout the country. We’ve also tramped more historic cemeteries than I can count and followed our ancestors onto battlefields across the nation, allowing me to better record their stories.
Of course, we are avid football fans as I’ve often shared with you, and one of our teams, the Aledo Bearcats, has had the unbelievable good fortune to be the 4-A Division II State Champion for the past three years. It was during this last state game that I was walking the sidelines when I suddenly saw something that reminded me of a writing I came across while doing historical research many years ago.
I must admit that for just a moment or two my mind wandered off of the football field and onto the battlefield…a Civil War battlefield to be exact…and from there into the pages of the musty old diary…
It really was a simple little thing. I watched the Bearcats run through their halftime sign and continue into the end zone, where they knelt to pray as they do each time they take the field.
Wanting a better vantage point, I moved to the far side of the field where the Manvel Mustangs knelt, also asking God’s blessings on their second half performance.
Suddenly, I remembered the diary and the question, “Mama, does God hear Yankee prayers too?” recorded the southern woman whose prayer for her Confederate soldier husband was overheard by her young child, a question I was never meant to hear and yet a question that caused me to shiver violently in the very warm room in which I read, a question that I’ve carried with me for years.
“Does God hear Yankee prayers too?”
How often and in how many different situations I have applied this concept in my own life! How often I have truly believed that I was right in my own belief about some issue only to discover someone else who believed just as strongly that he was on the right side of the issue himself.
In 1861, Julia Ward Howe visited a Union Army Camp. Later that night, the words to Battle Hymn of the Republic came to her as she slept. Ms. Howe obviously believed that God does indeed hear Yankee prayers.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps.
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps.
His day is marching on.
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel.
Since God is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
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.
The lesson that I took away from the old diary and the question from a little child long gone from this world is relatively simple and yet terribly complicated: Those of us who actually care about this country and who are trying to build lives for ourselves are doing our best.
We love America, and we want to see her standing strong and tall for generations to come. Where we often disagree is on just how we can best accomplish this goal, but in our hearts we all know that the key is learning to work together as Americans because we also know that God does indeed hear Yankee prayers, doesn’t He?