Tag archives: History

The Rich History of American Prayer in Times of Calamity

by Zachary Rogers

April 2, 2020

O God, merciful and compassionate, who art ever ready to hear the prayers of those who put their trust in thee; Graciously hearken to us who call upon thee, and grant us thy help in this our need; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” - A Prayer in Time of Calamity

The United States faces a rapidly developing coronavirus crisis that is testing our form of government, the social and health infrastructure we have built, and the solidarity of individuals at the local level. It is in times such as these that the true mettle and spirit of a people is revealed. It is a time for prayer. Thankfully, the United States has a long history of appealing to Heaven in times of crisis, calamity, and now COVID-19.

President Trump recognized this and the necessity of our times. Therefore, on March 13th he tweeted:

It is my great honor to declare Sunday, March 15th as a National Day of Prayer. We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these…

This action is not an aberration in U.S. history but a reflection of the blessings of God upon America, which many previous presidents have done. The prominent influence of prayer is clear throughout U.S. history.

On 16 March, 1776, the Continental Congress issued a fast proclamation. Mr. William Livingston brought forward a resolution for a fast, asserting that in times of impending calamity men must recognize the sovereignty of God, confess their sins, and request His blessing. Colonials were called to a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer.” Congress agreed to this resolution.

George Washington also recognized the role of Providence in the birth of the nation, as well as the important role of religion and morality in American life. During the American War of Independence, when he served as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, he concurred with the call of Congress for another day of prayer and fasting. To encourage and allow his men to do so, he forbade all unnecessary labor and recreation.

This understanding of God and the universe can clearly be seen in the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation when Washington in his duties as president recognized Thursday, November 26, as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. His proclamation in part reads:

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord.

Here, we see a call to all Americans, commissioning them to eagerly ask the Lord to enable everyone, civil servant or citizen, to perform our duties to each other, to our states, and to the nation. We can do no more. We should do no less.

One of the best examples of a national day of prayer in the history of the nation came from President Lincoln, who signed “A Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day” on March 30, 1863. This proclamation recognized the sovereignty of God, the necessity of repentance, and the need to ask for forgiveness.

In 1952 President Harry S. Truman signed into law a joint resolution of Congress establishing an annual day of prayer for the “people to turn to God in prayer and meditation.”

We should remember that God governs in the affairs of men, from the time of the Israelites, when He answered many prayers for the tribes of Israel, to the American Revolution when our Forefathers fought the mightiest empire known to man and, despite losing many battles, won the war. When we thank God, we should also thank Him for a free country in which we can have a day of prayer. It is important to remember the constitutional point that a National Day of Prayer neither establishes a state religion nor impedes religious practice.

America has a strong Judeo-Christian heritage, and this is reflected in our history of appealing to God in times of strife and calamity. Let us do so now while not neglecting to do all the good we can. The time is now and it is our duty to do so. Here is “A Prayer for Congress”:

Most gracious God, we humbly beseech thee, as for the people of these United States in general, so especially for their Senate and Representatives in Congress assembled; that thou wouldest be pleased to direct and prosper all their consultations, to the advancement of thy glory, the good of thy Church, the safety, honour, and welfare of they people; that all things may be so ordered and settled by their endeavours, upon the best and surest foundations, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, may be established among us for all generations. These and all other necessaries, for them, for us, and thy whole Church, we humbly beg in the Name and mediation of Jesus Christ, our most blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Zachary Rogers is a graduate of Hillsdale College and is a former intern of FRC, the Kirby Center, and the Claremont Institute. He is currently working in education in Northern Virginia.

Women’s History Month: Deborah and Jael - No Man’s Victory

by Laura Grossberndt

March 30, 2020

March is Women’s History Month (WHM), so it’s a great opportunity to commemorate the contributions of women to American history. The most influential book in the United States—even the world—is the Bible; it not only shapes the way we Christians live, it also helped set the foundations for the way our nation is governed. Thus, women featured in the Bible, despite never having lived in America, have contributed greatly to the spiritual heritage of our nation. Periodically throughout the month, we will be sharing their inspiring stories.

Be sure to also read our previous Women’s History Month posts on Shiphrah and PuahEsther, and Jehosheba.

Time and time again, throughout the Old and New Testaments, God chose unlikely individuals (by worldly standards) to join Him in completing His sovereign plans and purposes. As the apostle Paul explained to the church in Corinth:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor. 1:26-29)

In the Old Testament, most of the celebrated political and military leaders were men. But not all these men were natural leaders by worldly standards. (Consider Moses, who had a speech impediment, or David, who was a shepherd.) Nor does it mean that God exclusively worked through men to do His sovereign will. For one example, in the book of Judges, God used two women to defeat an enemy that had left even the bravest men of Israel cowering in their homes for over two decades. These women were named Deborah and Jael.

Deborah was an Israelite, a prophet, and a judge. She was married to a man named Lappidoth and may have belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, either by birth, marriage, or both. She lived “between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim” (Judg. 4:5). In Judges 5, Deborah describes herself as “a mother in Israel” (v.7). Biblical scholars are not sure if she was literally the mother of natural children or if she was speaking figuratively of her position as a judge. Nevertheless, this description shows us that Deborah embraced the role of a mother figure, biological children or not.

Deborah is one of only five women the Old Testament refers to as prophets. The other four are Miriam (Exod. 15:20), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22), Noadiah (Neh. 6:14), and “the prophetess” (Isa. 8:3). In addition to being a prophet, Deborah was also a judge—a rare combination. Judges were leaders that God raised up to lead Israel after they entered the Promised Land. These rulers judged Israel until Saul was anointed Israel’s first king (circa 1050 BC). Not every Israelite judge was also recognized as a prophet.

Unlike some of the other judges, such as Gideon, Deborah did not lead the Israelite armies into battle. Instead, when Barak had received a military directive from God—and was dragging his feet—Deborah summoned Barak. She reminded him of the Lord’s command to lead 10,000 men of the Naphtali and Zebulun tribes into battle against Sisera, the commander of the Canaanite army (Judg. 4:6-7).

Barak was reluctant to trust in God’s promise of victory, however, and refused to go into battle unless Deborah accompanied him! “If you go with me, I will go” (Judg. 4:8). Deborah agrees to go with Barak, but because of his lack of faith in God’s promise, she informs Barak that he will not be the hero: “the road on which you are going will not lead to glory.” Instead, God would choose His own hero from an unexpected place: “God will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judg. 4:9). Mighty Sisera, commander of 900 iron chariots, who had oppressed Israel for 20 years, would be defeated not by male soldiers, not by the strength of arms, but by the arm of a woman who God would providentially set in Sisera’s path: Jael.

Jael was the wife of Heber, a Kenite (Judg. 4:17). The Kenites were a nomadic people living in Canaan, who emanated from Midian, Edom, and the Arabah. Moses’ father-in-law had been a Kenite. However, while they were generally on good terms with the Israelites, they were not Israelites. In fact, Heber was on peaceful terms with the Hazorites, oppressors of the Israelites. So, when Sisera, commander of the Canaanite army, fled from the battlefield (after Barak’s army decisively defeated them) and sought shelter in Heber’s wife’s tent, it made sense tactically; Sisera believed he was hiding in an ally’s tent. He was wrong.

Commentators have debated why Sisera chose to hide in a woman’s tent (did he think it was the least likely place to be searched?); why Jael, the wife of a Kenite, decided to kill the Israelite enemy (had he offended her in some way?). Whatever the reasons, when Sisera walked into Jael’s tent, he walked unwittingly to his demise at the hand of an unlikely person. While Sisera was sleeping, Jael took a tent peg and hammered it into his head (Judg. 4:21-22). Thus, the mighty oppressor of Israel died at the hands of a Kenite woman.

The author of Judges concludes the story by attributing the victory to the Lord: “So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel” (Judg. 4:23). Indeed, this victory was God’s doing and not man’s. Afterward, the land was at rest for 40 years (Judg. 5:31).

Deborah exemplifies God’s authority and faithfulness to His promises. Jael exemplifies God’s use of weakness to defeat strength. While God used 10,000 Israelite men to rout the Canaanite army—a remarkable achievement and sign of God’s blessing—God’s glory shone most brightly in the slaying of the mighty general by a housewife, as predicted by a female prophet and judge.

Women’s History Month: Jehosheba - Princess, Aunt, Hero

by Laura Grossberndt

March 23, 2020

March is Women’s History Month (WHM), so it’s a great opportunity to commemorate the contributions of women to American history. The most influential book in the United States—even the world—is the Bible; it not only shapes the way we Christians live, it also helped set the foundations for the way our nation is governed. Thus, women featured in the Bible, despite never having lived in America, have contributed greatly to the spiritual heritage of our nation. Periodically throughout the month, we will be sharing their inspiring stories.

Be sure to also read our previous Women’s History Month posts on Shiphrah and Puah and Esther.

Do you know who Jehosheba is?

If not, you should.

Her story is contained in just a few verses in 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 22-23. But do not mistake its brevity for inconsequence. Jehosheba’s heroism looms large, for, without it, the kingly line of David would have been cut off forever.

Jehosheba (Jehoshabeath in 2 Chronicles) was a princess of Judah in the 9th century B.C. Her father was King Jehoram, and her brother was King Ahaziah. Her grandfather was the righteous King Jehoshaphat.

Unfortunately, Jehosheba’s father and brother were not godly men. Her father Jehoram married a woman named Athaliah, who was most likely the daughter of the infamous Ahab and Jezebel, the wicked king and queen that led the northern kingdom of Israel to worship Baal. Queen Athaliah brought the worship of Baal to Judah, even as King Jehu was removing the worship of Baal from Israel (2 Kings 10:18-28). She taught her son Ahaziah, prince of Judah, to do evil in the eyes of the LORD (2 Chron. 22:3-4).

As for Jehosheba, she was married to a man named Jehoiada (2 Chron. 22:11b). The biblical narrative does not tell us how Jehosheba, daughter of a wicked king, came to be married to Jehoiada, a righteous priest who served in the temple in Jerusalem. Their marriage was part of God’s sovereign plan, however, as we shall soon see.

Our story opens when King Ahaziah, brother of Jehosheba, is slain by Jehu, king of Israel (2 Chron. 22:9). When Athaliah, now the queen mother, heard of her son the king’s death, she responded by waging genocide on all of the males in the royal household of David—even her own grandchildren—and seizing the throne of Judah for herself (2 Kings 11:1, 2 Chron. 22:10). Thus, we see that the wicked, Baal-worshipping Athaliah threatened much more than Judah’s religion. She also nearly succeeded at wiping out the royal line God had promised David would sit on the throne forever (2 Samuel 7:8-17).

Athaliah might have succeeded with this massacre, were it not for God’s intervention and the brave actions of a princess who loved her family, feared God more than she feared the queen, and believed God’s promise that a descendant of David would reign forever. Jehosheba took her nephew Joash (also known as Jehoash), infant son of the slain Ahaziah, and hid him where Athaliah could not find him (2 Kings 11:2-3, 2 Chron. 22:11-12). This rescue is yet another example of God miraculously preserving and extending the Abrahamic and Davidic lines. Jehosheba not only protected her infant nephew from her father’s wicked wife but also ensured the messianic genealogy contained in Matthew 1 would continue, and God’s promise to David would, therefore, be fulfilled.[1]

Athaliah reigned over Judah for six years. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to her, her grandson Joash was raised within the house of the Lord. Jehosheba and her husband Jehoiada were his guardians. When Joash was seven years old, Jehoiada crowned and anointed Joash king of Judah in the temple. When Athaliah heard what was happening, she rushed to the temple, tore her clothes, and screamed, “Treason! Treason!” But Jehoiada commanded the execution of Athaliah and all of her supporters. The people of Judah then made a covenant to be the Lord’s people, and they destroyed the temple of Baal (2 Kings 11:12-18, 2 Chron. 23:11-17). Thus, the threat to God’s chosen messianic line was defeated.

The story of Jehosheba teaches us that caring for and raising a child to serve the Lord is a heroic act that can have an enormous impact on our family, our country, and even salvific history.


[1] While Joash is not mentioned in Matthew 1 by name, his grandfather Jehoram and grandson Uzziah are (Matt. 1:8-9).

Women’s History Month: Esther

by Patrina Mosley

March 19, 2020

March is Women’s History Month (WHM), so it’s a great opportunity to commemorate the contributions of women to American history. The most influential book in the United States—even the world—is the Bible; it not only shapes the way we Christians live, it also helped set the foundations for the way our nation is governed. Thus, women featured in the Bible, despite never having lived in America, have contributed greatly to the spiritual heritage of our nation. Periodically throughout the month, we will be sharing their inspiring stories.

Esther, whom God used to save the Jews from genocide in the late fifth century (483-473) B.C., is one of the most admired women in the Bible.

Through a series of providential events, the Jewish maiden Esther was chosen by King Xerxes of Persia (alternatively named Ahasuerus) to be his new Queen. Shortly after Esther was crowned, Haman, one of the king’s officials and an enemy of the Jews, manipulated the king. He acquired approval to annihilate all of the Jews living in the kingdom. Up until this point, Esther had never spoken of her nationality. But her cousin Mordecai urged her to petition the king about the matter. Esther was reluctant, knowing that going before the king without an invitation could result in her execution.

Here are two lessons we can glean from Esther’s story:

1. She was confronted with the truth and then committed to doing the right thing.

[Mordecai] sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

- Esther 4:13-16

2. Her strength and courage grew over time as she relied on God for wisdom.

On the third day, Esther went before King Xerxes despite fearing for her life. But God had given her favor with the king since the moment he met her. That favor continued when she approached his throne. Instead of coming right out with “save my people from slaughter,” she invited the king and Haman to a banquet. No better way to get a man’s heart than through his stomach!

At this banquet, the king asked Esther what she really wanted and promised to give her whatever she requested. Again, Esther did not come right out with her true request but instead invited the king and Haman to another banquet she would hold the next day (Esther 5:1-7). That night, fueled by discontentment and hatred, Haman set up gallows to execute Mordecai on. However, at the second banquet, Esther revealed her nationality to the king and exposed Haman’s plot to annihilate her people. The king was so furious with Haman that he had him hung on the very gallows that Haman had built for Mordecai! (Esther 7)

Since the prior edict of a king could not be reversed, Esther asked the king to give the Jews permission to annihilate anyone that tried to kill them, and he did (Esther 8). Esther repeated her request for a second day, and the king granted her request a second time! (Esther 9)

Esther’s Role “For Such a Time as This”

Once Esther decided to do what was right, her strength and courage grew over time as she relied on God for wisdom. From the moment Esther first requested the king come to her banquet, to the end of the story when she asked for the Jews to defend themselves for a second day in a row, we see her courage grow more and more with each request as God gave her favor with the king.

Esther’s dependence on God allowed her to reach the king in a winsome way, and by delaying her actual request, it gave time for Haman to build his own deathtrap! Only God could have orchestrated the timing of such events to bring about deliverance for his people. Esther knew how to listen and obey God for his instructions and timing. Mordecai even said God could use someone else to accomplish deliverance for his people, but it was evident that God had allowed her to be in a position of influence “for such a time as this.” Those six words are known synonymously with the story of Esther because it was evident that God’s providential hand was at work throughout.

Like Esther, it’s okay if all our courage and strength doesn’t come immediately; sometimes it doesn’t. But once confronted with the truth, we must decide to do right, regardless of the consequences, and immediately seek God for wisdom on how and when to do the right thing for his glory.

75 Years Ago Today: A D-Day Prayer

by Chris Gacek

June 6, 2019

Seventy-five years ago this morning, 73,000 Americans, 61,715 Britons, and 21,400 Canadians crossed the English Channel and landed on five beaches in the French province of Normandy, northwest of Paris. Twenty-three thousand airborne troops were dropped behind enemy lines.  The massive scale of the logistical operation supporting the invasion is almost beyond comprehension. (See this article by Stephen Green.)

In less than a year, these forces would be in the heart of Germany along with the armed forces of the Soviet Union. Many, many tens of thousands would be killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.  Many of the Americans who lost their lives are buried in Europe in beautiful cemeteries maintained by the United States government. One of those cemeteries is the Normandy American Cemetery which President Trump will visit today.

For those of us who were not alive then, it is hard to imagine what it must have been like to live through the events of that day relying solely on AM radios for news. Fortunately, some of the news bulletins of that morning beginning around 3 a.m. can be still be heard. This recording imparts so much information and context for the events of that day. 

On that evening, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the nation. America already knew that the invasion was underway. That was not the main purpose of the president’s remarks. Rather, he spoke to the nation to pray for the men who were now in peril and to ask God for martial success. 

Roosevelt wrote a beautiful prayer and read it with such clarity, eloquence, and calm energy that it takes little imagination to understand why he was such a potent political figure. Yesterday, in Portsmouth, England, President Trump read excerpts of it as part of the D-Day commemoration attended by the Queen of England, many European heads of state, and 300 survivors of the invasion who were honored guests at the ceremony.

Here is the prayer that President Roosevelt delivered on the evening of June 6, 1944: 

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace, a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

30 Years After the Tiananmen Square Massacre, China Still Oppresses Its People

by Arielle Del Turco

June 4, 2019

Thirty years ago today, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army fired into crowds of its own people—thousands of student-led protestors calling for a more democratic government. This marked a brutal end to the pro-democracy demonstrations that had been going on for weeks in Tiananmen Square.

While estimates suggest that several hundred to thousands of people died that day, an official death toll has never been released.

Fast forward to today and Chinese officials continue to dig their heels in and defend the actions taken by the Communist party which has come to be known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe cited the government’s actions in this incident as “the reason the stability of the country has been maintained.”

However, denial of past wrongs is the least of China’s problems.

The events at Tiananmen Square merely reflected the willingness of the Chinese Communist Party to put their ideology above the welfare, freedom, and even the lives of its own people. This sentiment has continued to grow within the Chinese government, and it has had tragic consequences for Chinese residents—especially those who wish to choose and live out a faith not approved by the communist regime.

China’s decades-long crackdown on Christians is continuing and it’s only getting worse.

The main targets of China’s campaign against Christianity are those who attend “underground” churches not registered with the government. In 2018, an estimated 100,000 Christians were arrested; most of these arrests were followed by short-term detention.

Last year, the Chinese government started a “thought reform” campaign to promote “Chinese Christianity.” The plan includes “retranslating and annotating” the Bible to find similarities with socialism. This is essentially an attempt to use Christianity as a platform to advance the communist party. Churches and believers who refuse to compromise their faith this way will likely face consequences. Rural underground churches have been forced to close and their members sent to labor camps.

The churches that seek and attain approval from the state don’t fare much better.

A variety of oppressive restrictions are forced upon state-sanctioned churches. Minors are banned from entering churches. The online sales of Bibles are blocked. Even the Catholic Catechism is censored. This April, Chinese authorities prevented several state-sanctioned churches from holding worship services and warned Christians not to participate in Easter celebrations.

While the suppression of Christianity is concerning, Christians aren’t the only victims of the Chinese government’s disapproval.

In China’s Xinjiang province, approximately one million Uyghur Muslims are detained in “re-education” prison camps, where they are subjected to torture and indoctrination by the communist party. Even within the last year, China has continued to add buildings to these camps—presumably with the intention of detaining more Uyghurs.

China is continually using technological advancements to crack down on Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Facial recognition technology—fixed to the entrances of supermarkets, malls, and police checkpoints every few hundred feet—is used to track Uyghurs as they go about their day.

China has also been accused of harvesting organs from its Uyghur population as they try to profit from their brutal human rights abuses.

In light of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, none of these human rights violations and religious freedom concerns should be a surprise. In Tiananmen, the Chinese government made clear that they wouldn’t tolerate any ideas that question the political ideology of the state.

Freedom of expression and freedom of religion are deeply connected—and the Chinese government feels threatened by both.

Just like China’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989, today China cracks down on its religious minorities.

The trend of worsening religious freedom violations and increasing attacks on free speech in China tells us this isn’t an issue that’s going to resolve itself.

As we remember the victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre today, we must also remember and pray for those who are continuing to suffer under China’s repressive regime.

Congress Does Something Right! (And it’s bipartisan, too.)

by Robert Morrison

November 1, 2013

The bitter joke around the country these days is that, while President Obama’s approval ratings are the lowest they have been, Congress’ approval rating is lower than the Taliban’s. Well, there’s good reason for that. Most of us approve of what the House is doing and are angry at what the Senate is doing. Or, we love what the Senate is doing and loathe those crazy folks in the House. The key to all that loving/loathing is not what we think of Congress, per se, but what we think of our own representatives and senators.

But today, I want to salute Congress — both parties — for doing something right. They have just installed a bust of Winston Churchill. It was a special project of Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio). Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined in the praise at the ceremony.

And John Kerry, the longtime U.S. Senator from Massachusetts (D), is certainly right to point out that is may seem strange for the British Prime Minister to be so honored in the same Statuary Hall where our great revolutionary, Sam Adams, is honored. But, as Sec. of State Kerry says, it is right to do it. Sam Adams stood for liberty. He was willing to pledge to his fellow Signers of the Declaration of Independence his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor.

Winston Churchill, before and during, and after World War II, pledged his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to the cause of freedom. In 1938, he stood in the British House of Commons to warn his countrymen of the false dawn of hope represented by then-Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s “historic” meeting with Hitler at Munich.

Churchill was then out of power and certainly out of favor with his party’s leaders. No one wanted to hear that “peace in our time” — as Chamberlain called his agreement with Hitler — was a mirage. “We were offered a choice of war or dishonor;” Churchill told a disbelieving parliament and people, “We have chosen dishonor and we will have war.”

In less than one year from the day he pronounced those grim words, Britain was at war with Hitler’s Germany.

Churchill almost never went to church. When in 1940 an Anglican vicar greeted him at a national prayer service, he told Churchill the Prime Minister he would like to see him come back and to call him “a pillar of the Church.” Churchill, leaving early, lighted his cigar and told the vicar “you may call me a buttress of the Church; I support it, but from outside.”

Even so, Churchill knew his people. And he knew his American cousins. When he had had delivered that famous address in Commons on the Czech crisis of 1938, he used biblical language.

I do not grudge our loyal, brave people, who were ready to do their duty no matter what the cost, who never flinched under the strain of last week — I do not grudge them the natural, spontaneous outburst of joy and relief when they learned that the hard ordeal would no longer be required of them at the moment; but they should know the truth. They should know that there has been gross neglect and deficiency in our defences; they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies:

Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

What strikes me about this passage — from the Book of Daniel Chapter 5 — is Churchill’s generosity toward his errant fellow citizens. He clearly loves the British people—even though he thinks they are wrong to cheer Chamberlain’s dishonorable sellout.

This is an important lesson for us today. We have always thought ObamaCare was wrong. We have always opposed it. And yet, the American people twice have chosen Barack Obama to lead them. We must not now be found to be exulting in the misery of millions who voted for this president and who have been so cruelly deceived.

But they should know the truth.

Churchill did not always say the popular thing, but he said the necessary truth. And he said it with Christian charity — even when he may not have shared his countrymen’s Christian faith.

It will be vitally important for us and the causes we champion not to engage in that ignoble exercise known as schadenfreude. That German word means “taking enjoyment from the sorrows of others.”

Millions of our fellow citizens are suffering from the shock and disappointment of the “debacle” of the ObamaCare rollout. Many of them voted for this administration and for its supporters in Congress. We can take no joy from their distress.

Churchill was able to unite his country and lead it against the most monstrous tyranny the world had known — Hitler and his Nazis — because he never said “I told you so.” Everyone knew he had told them so.

When some young supporters wanted to drive out of public life the “guilty men” who had appeased Hitler and allowed him to grow strong, Churchill said no. “If we open up a quarrel between yesterday and today, we shall lose tomorrow,” he wisely said.

Thus, some of the worst appeasers of the 1930s became staunch warriors against Hitler and Nazidom in the 1940s.

Even today, when this administration is failing so clearly at home, and when its policy of appeasement is so evidently collapsing abroad, Churchill offers us wisdom we can apply in our own time. 

Home with Honor—The POWs Return: March 8, 1973

by Robert Morrison

March 8, 2013

This date forty years ago deserves to be credited to Richard Nixon as a signal achievement of his presidency. On this date, more than 500 American POWs returned home with honor from North Vietnam.

Richard Nixon had promised the American people in 1968, when he ran for president, that he would end American involvement in the Vietnam War. He pledged to bring our troops home, to repatriate our POWs, and to achieve “Peace with Honor.”

Nixon won that election. The day he took the oath as President, we had 535,000 troops in South Vietnam. We were suffering hundreds of casualties a week. And the Lyndon Johnson administration was still arguing with the North Vietnamese about the shape of a negotiating table in Paris.

Four years later, President Nixon took the oath for a second time. By 1973, American forces had been drawn down to just 25,000 troops in South Vietnam. Our South Vietnamese allies were defending themselves. The U.S. still supported them with air, sea, and financial aid. But U.S. casualties were very few in what was to that point America’s longest war

Nixon had accomplished much. Not that the media was inclined to give him any credit for it. [Or, I confess, young Democrats like me.]

Richard Nixon did not forget our POWs. Our men had been subjected to inhuman torture for years in what they humorously called “The Hanoi Hilton.” Ever afterward, those Vietnam POWs would remember their experience, not with bitterness, but with gratitude for the country that did not forget them.

Ex-POW Jack Fellowes spoke often of his experiences in captivity. I remember him addressing a forum at the U.S. Naval Academy. “I don’t know who’s talking of our torture as breaking us. I saw a good many of us bent a lot.” That was typical of the thumbs up attitude of our heroic men. John McCain famously described the Hanoi Hilton as “not one of those where they put a chocolate on your pillow at night.”

My closest association with the honor and courage of these men came from my friendship with the late Admiral William P. Lawrence. This famous Navy aviator was a top student and an all-American football player at the Academy. With classmate Ross Perot, he developed the Academy’s Honor Concept for Midshipmen.

As a Navy test pilot, he broke records. He became the first man to fly Mach-2 (twice the speed of sound). A slight heart murmur kept him out of the Mercury astronaut program, but not out of danger.

Shot down over North Vietnam in 1967, Bill Lawrence was subjected to brutal treatment as a POW for more than five years.

In this Washington Post story, we learn:

[On parachuting out of his stricken jet, he landed in a rice paddy.] [H]ostile farmers took him and tossed him into a pen with a 400-pound hog.

At the prison, he helped form the tapping-coughing-sniffing communications system that kept the otherwise isolated captives in contact with one another. When the Communists discovered the system, they pitched Adm. Lawrence into a dank, tin-roofed cell. Prisoners called it “the Black Hole of Calcutta.”

During the next two months, he developed heat sores. For nourishment, he competed with enormous rats for scraps of bread.

Rats? Hogs? Few of us can even imagine surviving such treatment, much less writing poetry in our heads while undergoing beatings.

Admiral Lawrence later became the Poet Laureate for his beloved home state. He titled his memoirs, Tennessee Patriot.

I appreciated the Admiral’s connection with the Volunteer State especially when, one Sunday morning, I spied him sitting quietly on the bench outside the Naval Academy Chapel. He was waiting for his driver. I slipped in next to him and he asked me what I was working on. He was always genuinely interested in others.

I told him about my research in U.S. history, the Jackson Era. The Admiral proceeded to talk in detail about Andrew Jackson, how he was responsible for naming the state and other amazing details of Old Hickory’s life. Everything he told me proved correct and made it into the book I was then working on.

When Admiral Lawrence died in 2005, he was buried at the Academy with full military honors. His grave is at the highest point of land in the USNA Cemetery. How fitting for this high-flying son of Tennessee! And how fitting that we now have the USS William P. Lawrence defending our freedom.

Washington & Lee: Saving the Union

by Robert Morrison

February 1, 2013

Whenever we hear that term—Washington & Lee—we probably think of the distinguished Virginia university. Dubyanell it’s often called by those who love it. And the term brings to mind two of the Old Dominion’s famous sons—George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Lee modeled his life and his career on the man his father had eulogized as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

After he surrendered to Gen. Grant at Appomattox in 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee received many offers of employment. One of these was from an insurance company that promised to pay him $50,000 a year if he would be their president. When Gen. Lee demurred, saying he knew nothing about insurance, the company’s recruiters tried to reassure him that they only wanted his name, that he would be a figurehead president. The former commander of Confederate armies smilingly declined, saying if his name was worth $50,000 a year, he would take good care of it. Instead, Gen. Lee accepted the presidency of Washington College at $5,000 a year. And his inspired leadership transformed the sleepy little school into a pioneer in education. That’s why it’s known today as Washington & Lee University.

My Washington & Lee today is another partnership, a lifelong relationship between Gen. George Washington and his slave, William Lee. Historian David Hackett Fischer’s excellent book, Washington’s Crossing, relates many amazing facts of that near-disastrous year of 1776.

One of the stories that has greatest appeal to me is how the Continental Army nearly broke apart in a huge riot. It was in the Cambridge camp, outside Boston. Virginia backwoodsmen arrived to join the army. Their fringed buckskin jackets suggested frontier roughness. But their frilled white shirts announced that these Virginians considered themselves gentlemen and they expected the deference due them as gentlemen. Some of these Virginians were, like His Excellency, Gen. Washington, the owners of slaves.

They soon collided with Col. John Glover’s Marblehead regiment. Many of Glover’s men were hardy New England sailors. Among their number were free men of color. Seafaring Massachusetts had long included black sailors among its sons. This made Massachusetts more “democratical” from the start.

Fischer’s account is chilling: “Insults gave way to blows, and blows to ‘a fierce struggle’ with ‘biting and gouging.’ One spectator wrote that in less than five minutes more than a thousand combatants were on the field. Americans from one region began to fight Americans from another part of the country, on a larger scale than the battles at Lexington and Concord [emphasis added].”

Omigosh! Now Bill Clintons Bowing, Too!

by Robert Morrison

September 6, 2012

Not you, too, Bill Clinton! Thats what I wanted to yell when I saw this incredible scene on TV. Bill Clinton is shown bowing to President Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

It was bad enough when Barack Obama bowed to the odious King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in London just days after becoming president. That desert despot is one of the worst human rights violators in the world. Even our own State Department recognizes this much. There is no religious liberty in Saudi Arabia, their official reports have laconically statedfor years.

Americans dont bow. One of the most affecting scenes in our history occurred on April 4, 1865, in Richmond. For four years, Richmond had been the Confederate capital; it still smoldering from the fires set by retreating rebel soldiers. President Lincoln had waited four long and bloody years for this day. He had said: I want to see Richmond, and moved quickly to enter the Virginia city. An American flag flew over the State Capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson.

Accompanied only by his son, Tad, and a small detachment of sailors, the president walked to the Confederate White House and sat at the desk of Jefferson Davis. The Confederate president had fled the city less than forty-eight hours earlier.

Most white people stayed inside, behind shuttered windows. But free black people crowded around Father Abraham. One elderly black man knelt down in front of his Emancipator. No, Lincoln admonished him, this is not right. You should bow only before God and thank Him for your freedom.

This is a story that bears repeating. Americans should never bow to any foreign head of state. And we certainly can find more democratic ways to greet one another than bowing.

President John F. Kennedy faced an interesting situation in 1963. He was acutely aware that he was the first Catholic elected as our president. When he went to the Vatican to see the new PopePaul VIshortly after the College of Cardinals had elevated himKennedy knew what he should do. Normally, it is protocol for faithful Catholics to kiss the Popes ring, a sign of reverence for the man whom Catholics believe is the Vicar of Christ.

But President Kennedy recognized his role as constitutional leader of thisGreatRepublic. So he sat respectfully at the Popes right hand and did not bow. Later that year, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy had the tragic duty of receiving mourners at her husbands funeral. When numerous royal heads of state came through the White House, draped in funeral black crepe, Mrs. Kennedy did not bow.

Granted, George Washington bowed to dignitaries on the balcony of New Yorks Federal Hall on April 30, 1789, when he was inaugurated. And he bowed to the tens of thousands of American citizens who came to witness the first taking of the presidential oath.

But Washington was mildly rebuked by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and other republicans for aping this monarchical practice. They preferred a simple handshake to put distance between our new experiment in self-rule and those royal courts of Europe.

Democrats used to understand this. Franklin D. Roosevelt never bowed. Confined to a wheel chair as he often was, it would really not have been possible. When FDR played host to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in June, 1939, he not only did not bow to the British monarchs, he made a point of serving them hot dogs and beans at a Hyde Park picnic! The royals loved it.

Jimmy Carter showed an appreciation of American history when he was inaugurated. Following the taking of the oath and a thoroughly forgettable Inaugural Address on January 20, 1977, President Carter got out of his limousine and walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the reviewing stands in front of the White House.

Carter did this to emulate the famous Inaugural walk of President Thomas Jefferson in 1801. I applauded Jimmy Carter for this fine action. (Come to think of it, its the last thing he did that I could applaud.)

So, please, can we remember we are Americans? We bow only to God!

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