Thanksgiving: Caring, Daring, and Sharing

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, my wife and I have been busy preparing for the occasion.    I am an eager goer because I know my going provides my wife with the ingredients she needs to be the skillful “doer” in the kitchen.  She prepares the list and I go for turkey, ham, yams, apples, or whatever she needs to make one of her delicious meals.

I also think about goers and doers in the context of our Forefathers and their many sacrifices.  Daniel Webster commended the sacrifices of these faith-filled and hardy Pilgrims when he said: Our fathers were brought here by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary.

Webster’s words are the “secret sauce” that Kirk Cameron wished for when he began a project that focused on the Forefathers Monument. The sacrifices of these hardy souls is memorialized in this monument that stands an imposing 86 feet high and weighs 180 tons.

Lady Faith is at the center of the monument, and she is seen with her right hand lifted towards heaven as her left hand holds the Bible of the Pilgrims, the Geneva Bible.  

Standing 36 feet tall, Lady faith reminds us of the perseverance of our Forefathers.  Their faith was the source of their strength as they struggled to realize the liberties and freedoms they envisioned; it sustained them and guided through times of heartaches and trials.

Daniel Webster also reminded people of the need to, develop the resources of our land, call forth our powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.

When Webster spoke of his day and his generation, I think he was comparing it to what the Forefathers had done.  Webster knew that if he and his generation were going to doing something worthy to be remembered, their lives had to be more than a selfish existence.

Isn’t this the message of Thanksgiving:  Sacrifice, remembering and giving thanks?  The Pilgrims were not content to just live; they wanted religious freedom for both themselves and future generations. They cared for others and dared for others, so they could also share with others.

…For this I give thanks.

Duty Done: Hitchin’ A Ride Home

army-deployment-plane-military_82981_990x742The picture to the left was taken about a year ago today.  When it was snapped, member’s of the Army’s Fourth Stryker Brigade Combat Team had hitched a ride on a C-17 transport, and they were returning home after a nine month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

While you are enjoying the blessings of freedom, remember the members of the USA who stand in harms way to sacrifice and serve.

Give thanks!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

~ 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Six Years Ago Today

4-july_1100030757012814-intSix years ago today, I had the honor of speaking at a Flag Day Ceremony. Since today is Flag Day, I thought I’d share the speech I gave on June 14, 2008 . . .

We gather here this 14th day of June to honor the emblem of our country. This is the day set aside to honor the stars and stripes that decorate the banner we recognize as a flag of freedom.

This flag defines patriotism, and S]several days ago I received an email from Becky Demo that addresses this subject:
“A veteran – whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve – is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America”, for an amount of “up to and including my life.”

That email is more than rhyme and cheap rhetoric to people like Jim and Becky, and their son Jason who has served several tours in Iraq and to those of us who call ourselves veterans. To us it is more than mere sentiment—It speaks of sacrifice!

Henry Ward Beecher spoke of this sacrifice: If anyone asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him – it means just what Concord and Lexington meant; what Bunker Hill meant; which was, in short, the rising up of a valiant young people against an old tyranny to establish the most momentous doctrine that the world had ever known – the right of men to their own selves and to their liberties. Our Flag carries American ideas, American history and American feelings. Beginning with the Colonies, and coming down to our time, in its sacred heraldry, in its glorious insignia, it has gathered and stored chiefly this supreme idea: divine right of liberty in man. Every color means liberty; every thread means liberty; every form of star and beam or stripe of light means liberty – not lawlessness, but organized, institutional liberty – liberty through law, and laws for liberty!

I can recall my four years of service in the Air Force, and each evening when the colors were retired and taps was sounded; and, almost without fail, these memories bring goose-bumps with them. I love everything this flag symbolizes, and the words of Wilbur D. Nesbit capture the essence of my feelings for the flag.
He wrote: Your Flag and My Flag—

Your flag and my flag,
And how it flies today
In your land and my land
And half a world away!
Rose-red and blood-red
The stripes forever gleam;
Snow-white and soul-white –
The good forefathers’ dream;
Sky-blue and true-blue, with stars to gleam aright –
The gloried guidon of the day, a shelter through the night.

I find it interesting that one of the first things we teach our toddlers is parade etiquette. We teach them to hold the flag in their tiny hands and to proudly wave it. Jared Gomez, a young cousin of mine and a former El Dorado toddler, has grown into manhood as a marine. As I speak, Jared is about to depart for a third tour of combat. It is the sacrifice of young men and women like him who define the significance of the Flag and give meaning to the word patriotism. They grow-up to serve our nation, to defend it and to take the chance of returning home in a flag covered casket having made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the cherished virtue called freedom.

When speaking of rights and duties associated with freedom, Calvin Coolidge said:
We do honor to the stars and stripes as the emblem of our country and the symbol of all that our patriotism means.
We identify the flag with almost everything we hold dear on earth. It represents our peace and security, our civil and political liberty, our freedom of religious worship, our family, our friends, our home. We see it in the great multitude of blessings, of rights and privileges that make up our country.
But when we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights, we must remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties. Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done. A yearly contemplation of our flag strengthens and purifies the national conscience.

On this Flag Day, June 14, 2008, we stand here to pay tribute, to honor old glory, and to offer our gratitude to those who have fought and died for this country. This flag should serve to remind us of our obligation to preserve the freedom that is ours today. It is a freedom that did not come cheaply, and it is a freedom that will only be maintained if the present generation and the ones to follow are willing to pay its price.