Music and the Spoken Word

What You Can Do for Your Country - Sunday, May 28, 2017- Memorial Day Special

In his inaugural address on January 20, 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy made a statement that nearly 60 years later bears reminding: “And so, my fellow Americans,” he said, “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”1

Memorial Day is, as the name suggests, a day to remember. And what might come to our memory on this special day? We may remember and honor those who have gone before us, who have done great things for our country and for us. Our thoughts might turn to the military men and women who died in defense of freedom; to the good people who opened doors for us, taught us, protected us, and helped us along the way; to the parents, friends, and loved ones who supported us and cared about us through good times and bad.

On Memorial Day, millions of people visit cemeteries to pay tribute to those who have passed on. Yes, there may be moments of sadness as we recall fond memories and associations from a former time. But we can also feel an encircling sense of gratitude, of respect, even of reverence for those who went before us and made life better for us today.

Our memorial is incomplete, however, if we think only about what has been done for us. As President Kennedy suggested, our gratitude must ultimately turn to thoughts of what we can do for others.

This day is so much more than a day off work, more than parades and parties, more than a marker for the beginning of summer. It is a day to look back, look inward, and look ahead. With each flower placed on a grave and each hand placed on a heart this Memorial Day, may we also make a silent commitment to live a little better and help those around us. As we remember what our country and our countrymen and women have done for us, may these memories inspire us to do a little more for generations yet to come.

-Lloyd D. Newell

1. In Lewis Copeland and others, eds., The World’s Great Speeches, 4th ed. (1999), 741.

May 28, 2017
Broadcast Number 4,576

Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

For My Country

Mack Wilberg

Andrew Unsworth

Lloyd Newell

This Is My Country
Al Jacobs; arr. Michael Davis

Blades of Grass and Pure White Stones
Orrin Hatch, Lowell Alexander, Phil Naish; arr. Keith Christopher

God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand
George W. Warren; arr. Andrew Unsworth

Hymn to the Fallen
John Williams

On This Day
Charles Strouse

Battle Hymn of the Republic
William Steffe; arr. Peter J. Wilhousky