Benghazi… as it really happened

Benghazi… as it really happened.

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We Need Heroes

My sons are both young still – the oldest is not yet school age and the youngest is not yet two.  Both are enamored with superheroes – Spiderman, Ironman, Captain America, Superman, Thor, and others.  I’m not surprised though – these fictional characters do astounding things and neither boy is old enough to yet distinguish reality from fiction, which means that they sit in awe through Marvel’s Super Hero Squad show or a DVD from the library with their favorite heroes in it.  My wife has said before that she feels surrounded by it at times as they play as their favorite heroes together.

Now some part of me says that they are too young to really grasp the heroes and to watch the cartoons and in many cases they are and we try to limit which ones they get to watch for age appropriateness, but as I thought more about this fascination, I saw something in each of these characters, something that few mediums in today’s society are capable of teaching.

Just think about the messages that these characters can convey to young impressionable minds with their words and deeds.  You can even see instances of scriptural truth in the words of these creations of the mind.

I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.

Spiderman

Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

Romans 13:14

If anyone knows what it’s like to be on the outside, I do. Sometimes I feel like I’m out there fighting all alone. Sometimes I feel like giving up. But, then I remember that what I stand for is more important than anything else.

Superman

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”

Therefore,

“Come out from them
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”

And,

“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, you move.”

Captain America

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17

So when my boys run around with their play Captain America shields or acting like they’re Superman and flying about, or Spiderman leaping and running and fighting “bad guys,” I smile a bit knowing that these seeds of truth are finding their way in piece by piece.

Ultimately, I know that they will learn that these characters are fictional.   Hopefully the truths that they learned will remain.

Strength and might must be tempered by compassion and justice.

Liberty deserves and requires sacrifice.

Truth must never be abandoned or denied.

Courage is acting in spite of fear rather than a complete lack of it.

In the end, I hope that they one day learn the most important lesson of all though – that each of us has the opportunity to be heroic because it is the character behind our actions that make us heroic, not the actions themselves.

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

Christopher Reeve

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

We’re here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For 4 long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history. dday3

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers — the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machineguns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After 2 days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.dday8

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.dday1

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life . . . and left the vivid air signed with your honor.”

I think I know what you may be thinking right now — thinking “we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day.” Well, everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren’t. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him.

Lord Lovat was with him — Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, “Sorry I’m a few minutes late,” as if he’d been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he’d just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.

There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.dday4

All of these men were part of a rollcall of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore: the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland’s 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England’s armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard’s “Matchbox Fleet” and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.dday5

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought — or felt in their hearts, though they couldn’t know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m., in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying, and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-day: their rockhard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we’re about to do. Also that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.

When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together.

There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall plan led to the Atlantic alliance — a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.dday6

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They’re still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost 40 years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as 40 years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose — to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We’ve learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.

But we try always to be prepared for peace; prepared to deter aggression; prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms; and, yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It’s fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II: 20 million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the Earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.dday6

We will pray forever that some day that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We are bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We’re bound by reality. The strength of America’s allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe’s democracies. We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.”

Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

President Ronald Reagan – June 6, 1984

Scouting

I grew up a scout.  I worked my way up from the first years of cub scouts all the way up to just short of an Eagle.  The only reason I didn’t finish my Eagle was that I was also a football player and after-school practices, game days, and Saturday film sessions dominated by time in a way that beat scouting.

Yesterday, a majority of voting delegates decided that scouting would become open to openly gay boys.  The issue of openly gay scoutmasters and adult leaders was tabled, but the camel’s nose is under the tent now and it is only a matter of time.

The problems with this decision are many.

Older boy scouts are looked up to by the younger ones.  Children are not generally well-founded morally, ethically, or spiritually in order to define right and wrong especially on a culturally divisive issue as sexual preference.  Confusion is easy to generate in teenagers and will be amplified by the disconnect between the words of the Boy Scout Oath and Law which no longer seem to apply in light of this decision.

Traditionally, churches have been the sponsors of scout troops across the country.  These delegates are rather short sighted in that the sponsorship and support that they have received from churches that still preach morality and Godly-living will dry up and wither away as those bodies of believers will refuse to support an organization that does not abide by the moral purpose it once did.

More so, that short-sightedness fails to take into account one other element, and that is men like me.  My boys are too young to join scouting for a few more years.  The problem is that the scouting I knew will cease to exist.  There are so few organizations that take a moral stance and will proclaim right and wrong.  The Scouts have always been inclusive of Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists.  They have never forced a certain belief set, but they have insisted historically on a moral code of behavior that set Boy Scouts apart from non-scouts.  Without that code, the scouts are just a social group that teaches how to build fires, us a compass, and go camping.  Frankly, I can teach my boys just as well or better than anyone else how to do those things AND I can use those to teach right, wrong, good, evil, and the nature of God.

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

So what motivation do I have to say to my sons that joining the Scouts is a good idea anymore?

Why would I encourage my sons to join an organization that caved on one of it’s founding principles?

Honor?  There is no longer any. A group that violates it’s own oath of membership has no honor.

Duty? My duty is to God and country.

Mental awakeness?  There is none. There was no forethought in this decision.  There was no critical thinking applied.

Moral straightness?  By demanding none, the further graying of the lines of morality will continue.

I once was forced to decide between a sport that I loved and an organization that seemed to be waffling, but I did not then understand why or for what reason.  Now I am forced to decide what is best for my sons – my duty before God.  Instead of regret though, I am proud to proclaim that this former Scout will not abide this violation of the Scout Oath, as it no longer has any meaning for that organization going forward.

Quotes of the Day

Life every man holds dear; but the dear man holds honor far more precious dear than life.

William Shakespeare

Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.

Robert E. Lee

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure about you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.

Marianne Williamson

Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person.

Albert Einstein

Honor.

Duty.

Glory.

Strength.

Attributes of manhood or attributes of God?

Rise

Have you ever been knocked down?  Has the world ever landed a body blow on you that took you off of your feet?

Perhaps you lost a loved one that was particular close and important to you.  Perhaps a marriage fell apart.  Perhaps you suffered a terrible illness or a prolonged period of joblessness.  Perhaps you have felt persecuted because of your faith.  Perhaps you have felt disheartened by the path that the world seems to be taking.

What keeps us from just giving up?  Why do we not just surrender?  Turn the other cheek?

Hope.  Duty.  Faith.  Love.

Hope for the future.

Duty to our country and family.

Faith in His faithfulness and the promise that the future holds.

Love of Others, even our enemies.

David prayed that God would reduce his enemies that surrounded him and the Psalms are filled with examples where he prays that justice is done.  Christ commands us to pray for our enemies though.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matthew 5:44

Why should we do that?  Our God possesses perfect Justice and He seeks that all may come to know Him.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.

1 Timothy 2:1-6

It is your steadfast defiance to naked force, that which can only destroy the body, that allows you to become more powerful than anything or anyone that attacks you.  The simple fact that you get back up after being knocked down is an act of faith.  Faith that you won’t be held down.

The next time you take a shot from the world, whatever it might be, don’t grumble and curse it. Pray for it.  Pray that you might shine the light of Truth as you rise up again and again.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

Psalm 20:7-8

Though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,
but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

Proverbs 24:16

Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.

Micah 7:8

Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.

When the world challenges and destroys?  Will you go quietly like a lamb or will you take on the mantle of a lion?  Rise.  Rise again.  And Again. And Again… until those that choose to be lambs and go silently along with injustice, with hate, and with evil see you relentlessly rising over and over again to meet the challenges of the world.

If you want to change the world and restore the soul of your nation you need to take the first step in faith.  Rise up, bear your cross with honor, and roar with your battle cry.  The world will do it’s best to knock you down to discourage you, to break your will, to break your faith, to ultimately, if necessary, break you.  They will land blows.  What do you intend to do?

Rise.

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