Thursday, December 20, 2012

Morgan Griffith Shares Poem for Newtown

We apologize for not finding Congressman Griffith's message and posting it sooner. Even with four e-mail accounts, we miss a lot of things that are worth sharing, down at the back of the day's e-mail pile. We may miss more than ever during the holiday week ahead. U.S. readers have probably read Longfellow's poem before, but nobody can read this thought too often...

"As a father to three young children, I was heartbroken upon hearing of the heinous, criminal act that took place Friday morning in Newtown, Connecticut. No words can describe this senseless crime that took the lives of many. As details of this tragedy continue to emerge, let us give thanks for the school faculty, law enforcement officers, medical personnel, and brave students who helped get people to safety.

We in western Virginia know all too well that senseless violence like this has no place in our society. Any tragedy is difficult to understand, but especially difficult to comprehend are those that impact young people. In the days and weeks ahead, my family and I will continue praying for strength and comfort for all those grieving, particularly for the victims’ families, whose lives will never be the same.
This time last year, I wrote about American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his poem Christmas Bells, but the poem and song seem especially poignant this year after Friday’s tragedy in Newtown.

After suffering through years of great despair following the tragic loss of his wife and the injury of his son Charles in the War Between the States, Longfellow wrote Christmas Bells, which was the basis for the carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. This carol tells of its narrator’s despair that “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men,” until he hears the ringing of the bells, which celebrate the power of faith and offer great hope.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men...

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good well to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!"

Just like Longfellow, we have witnessed despair and evil, particularly over this last week, but “God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!” As we mourn and yes, cry, let us also celebrate the Christmas season, for this is the message that we must remember: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).” From my family to yours, best wishes for a safe and merry Christmas.

In observance of Christmas there will not be a column next week, but as always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at"