In September 2004 I traveled to the Netherlands with two of my grandchildren, Jim and Arianne, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Dutch liberation during World War II. We had been invited by the Dutch Historical Group to participate in the commemoration because my brother Evan, a co-pilot of a B-24 bomber, had died while helping with the liberation in 1944.
While there we traveled to Hommersum, just over the border into Germany, to attend a ceremony dedicating a plaque where my brother’s plane had crashed. Father Gerard Thuring, one of the event organizers, and I spoke during the ceremony, after which 17-year-old Arianne sang the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and Jim, 15, helped raise the U.S. flag.
Afterward I told Father Thuring that we would like to attend the special liberation Mass the following day at his church in Oosterhaus. He welcomed our interest and invited us to attend. I then summoned the courage to suggest that Arianne, with whom I had consulted earlier, would be willing to sing at the meeting.
Surprised, he asked, “What will she sing?”
“ ‘I Am a Child of God,’ ”1 I told him.
This good and kind man thought for a moment and then said, “We are all children of God. Let’s do it.”
When we arrived for the liberation Mass early the next morning, the church was full. Partway through the program, Father Thuring invited Arianne to come up and sing. After escorting her to the front, he said, “We will now hear a song from a Mormon girl from Utah.”
Without the benefit of music or accompaniment, Arianne began. As her voice echoed from the church’s high ceilings, tears began to flow as parishioners comprehended the hymn’s comforting message.
At the close of the meeting, many in the congregation expressed appreciation and love to Arianne for singing the hymn. The experience was a powerful reminder that all of us—regardless of race, religion, or language—are children of God.