On May 24, 1973, President and First Lady Nixon hosted American Prisoners of War held captive in Vietnam for the largest dinner ever held at the White House. 40 years later, the Richard Nixon Foundation hosted what was perhaps their last reunion gathering. The following is a collection of television and print news coverage.
…Many who attended the dinner in 1973 believe that, although it had many memorable moments, the one that topped them all was the performance by thirty-five POWs of a ten-line hymn, composed nearly four long years before their release, which expressed their undying love of country in their time of bondage:
Oh God, to Thee we raise this prayer and sing,
From within these foreign prison walls,
We’re men who wear the gold and silver wings
and proudly heed our nation’s call.
Give us strength to withstand all the harm,
That the hand of our enemy captors can do,
To inflict pain and strife and deprive every life,
Of the rights they know well we are due.
We pledge unswerving faith and loyalty to our cause,
To America and to Thee. Amen.
The words and music of “The POW Hymn” were written by one of their own – Colonel J. Quincy Collins, USAF. In the absence of sheet music and a pen, he wrote the hymn on toilet paper, with a fish bone, employing red liquid from a diarrhea pill for ink. When the guards at the Vietnamese prison, dubbed “Camp Faith,” were away, he and his fellow servicemen would practice the hymn…