Save Cornwells Heights


Special 9/11-Katrina-Kipling Edition


Sunday, September 11, 2005


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To learn more about the fight to save Cornwells Heights Amtrak service to New York City, please, just for today, click on “Friday’s issue” below,  or examine the archives.


Friday’s issue.




I’ll be back tomorrow with fresh train news and thoughts on how to battle the double threat of 1) Amtrak abandoning the Cornwells Heights station and 2) new sky-high Amtrak monthly pass prices.


– Rick



9/11/2005: Remembrance and “Recessional”


In the summer of 1897, when Queen Victoria’s reign had come to span sixty full years, England celebrated the old Windsor widow’s Diamond Jubilee with weeks of pomp and pageant.  As the festivities were coming to an end, Rudyard Kipling published some thoughts he wished to share with the nation, crafted as a poem in the London Times newspaper of July 17th.  The British Empire was at its greatest height.  India was theirs.  The Royal Navy ruled the seas.  The sun never set…  What Kipling published that day, though, was anything but a cheer to revere the nation’s might.  It was, instead, a finely crafted prayer for national humility and forgiveness of errors.  Oddly enough, the poem struck a ready chord, and Kipling’s popular status thus began to shift from poet of a nation to prophet.  Victoria had reigned for sixty years and twenty-seven days.


“Recessional” is a poem which has been on my mind often since September 11th four years ago.  With each passing season, it seems to me all the more appropriate, to read, to recite, and to ponder.  A few phrases may now seem politically incorrect or thoroughly obscure after the passage of 108 years, but understood in the context of the times they were written, and with an appreciation for the sly irony with which Kipling always suggested that servants were greater than masters, the words are still quite good.


Nine-eleven humbled and angered a nation.  The Hurricane has humbled us again, and perhaps angered us with ourselves.  Being a stickler for accuracy, and a hunter of odd connections, I wondered what happened 60 years and 27 days ago as I prepared to reissue “Recessional” for a one-day run on this website, 9/11/2005.  It turns out that in looking back those sixty years and change, the day was given a name, V-J Day, August 15th, 1945, the end of World War II, and the day a lucky photographer snapped an instantly famous picture of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square.  It was the first day of the world’s new post-war Pax Americana.  It hasn’t all really been pax since then, but neither has it all been war.  As three score years go, the world has seen worse.


It’s Sunday, 9/11/2005, and trains can wait till tomorrow.  Today I would rather share Kipling’s “Recessional.”







God of our fathers, known of old,

Lord of our far-flung battle-line,

Beneath whose awful Hand we hold

Dominion over palm and pine –

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!


The tumult and the shouting dies;

The Captains and the Kings depart;

Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,

An humble and a contrite heart.

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!


Far-called, our navies melt away;

On dune and headland sinks the fire;

Lo, all our pomp of yesterday

Is one with Nineveh and Tyre !

Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!


If, drunk with sight of power, we loose

Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,

Such boastings as the Gentiles use,

Or lesser breeds without the Law –

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

Lest we forget – lest we forget!


For heathen heart that puts her trust

In reeking tube and iron shard,

All valiant dust that builds on dust,

And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,

For frantic boast and foolish word –

Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!


                             – Rudyard Kipling