Friday, May 28, 2004
1) From the Christian Cyber Ministries devotionals dated 5/26 and 5/27/04
I was sitting alone in one of those loud, casual steak houses that you find all over the country.
Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my glass. My gaze lingered on a group enjoying their meal. They wore no uniform to identify their branch of service, but they were definitely "military:" clean shaven, cropped haircut, and that "squared away" look that comes with pride.
Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my husband usually sat. It had only been a few months since we sat in this very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East. That was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back to this restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak. In turn he would treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until he returned home to me.
I fingered the little flag pin I constantly wear and wondered where he was at this very moment. Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better? Were my letters getting through to him? As I pondered these thoughts, high pitched female voices from the next booth broke into my thoughts.
"I don't know what Bush is thinking about. Invading Iraq. You'd think that man would learn from his old man's mistakes.
I cut into my steak and tried to ignore them, as they began an endless tirade running down our president. I thought about the last night I spent with my husband, as he prepared to deploy. He had just returned from getting his smallpox and anthrax shots. The image of him standing in our kitchen packing his gas mask still gives me chills.
Once again the women's voices invaded my thoughts. "It is all about oil, you know. Our soldiers will go in and rape and steal all the oil they can in the name of 'freedom'. Hmph! I wonder how many innocent people they'll kill without giving it a thought? It's pure greed, you know."
My chest tightened as I stared at my wedding ring I could still see how handsome my husband looked the day he slipped it on my finger. I wondered what he was wearing now. Probably his desert uniform, affectionately dubbed "coffee stains" with a heavy bulletproof vest over it.
"You know, we should just leave Iraq alone. I don't think they are hiding any weapons. In fact, I bet it's all a big act just to increase the president's popularity. That's all it is, padding the military budget at the expense of our social security and education. And, you know what else? We're just asking for another 9-ll.
Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering outside our base. Did no one appreciate the sacrifice of brave men and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom? Do they even know what "freedom" is?
I glanced at the table where the young men were sitting, and saw their courageous faces change. They had stopped eating and looked at each other dejectedly, listening to the women talking.
"Well, I, for one, think it's just deplorable to invade Iraq, and I am certainly sick of our tax dollars going to train professional baby killers we call a military."
Professional baby killers? I thought about what a wonderful father my husband is, and of how long it would be before he would see our children again.
That's it! Indignation rose up inside me. Normally reserved, pride in my husband gave me a brassy boldness I never realized I had. Tonight one voice will answer on behalf of our military, and let her pride in our troops be known.
Sliding out of my booth, I walked around to the adjoining booth and placed my hands flat on their table. Lowering myself to eye level with them, I smilingly said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. You see, I'm sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner alone. And, do you know why? Because my husband - whom I love with all my heart - is halfway around the world defending your right to say rotten things about him."
"Yes, you have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none of my business. However, what you say in public is something else, and I will not sit by and listen to you ridicule MY country, MY president, MY husband, and all the other fine American men and women who put their lives on the line, just so you can have the "freedom" to complain. Freedom is an expensive commodity, ladies. Don't let your actions cheapen it."
I must have been louder that I meant to be, because the manager came over to inquire if everything was all right. "Yes, thank you," I replied. Then turning back to the women, I said, "Enjoy the rest of your meal."
As I returned to my booth applause broke out. I was embarrassed for making a scene, and went back to my half eaten steak. The women picked up their check and scurried away.
After finishing my meal, and while waiting for my check, the manager returned with a huge apple cobbler ala mode. "Compliments of those soldiers," he said. He also smiled and said the ladies tried to pay for my dinner, but that another couple had beaten them to it. When I asked who, the manager said they had already left, but that the gentleman was a veteran, and wanted to take care of the wife of "one of our boys."
With a lump in my throat, I gratefully turned to the soldiers and thanked them for the cobbler. Grinning from ear to ear, they came over and surrounded the booth. "We just wanted to thank you, ma'am. You know we can't get into confrontations with civilians, so we appreciate what you did."
As I drove home, for the first time since my husband's deployment, I didn't feel quite so alone. My heart was filled with the warmth of the other diners who stopped by my table, to relate how they, too, were proud of my husband, and would keep him in their prayers. I knew their flags would fly a little higher the next day.
Perhaps they would look for more tangible ways to show their pride in our country, and the military who protect her. And maybe, just maybe, the women who were railing against our country would pause for a minute to appreciate all the freedom America offers, and the price it pays to maintain its freedom.
Prayer: Father on this coming Memorial Day bless the men and women who now serve and have served our country to insure our freedom. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
1) From the Christian Cyber Ministries devotional dated 5/28/04
World War II saw the use of German submarines throughout the Atlantic to stop the transport of men and material from America to England. The waters from America passing near Greenland and on to England soon earned the nickname Torpedo Alley.
February 1943 was an icy cold time in Torpedo Alley and the waters were just above freezing. On the early morning of February 3 the USS Dorchester a converted luxury coastal liner into a troop carrier was 150 miles from Greenland with 900 sailors, soldiers and civilian workers.
Silently the Dorchester and five other ships were making their way to Greenland. At 1:00 AM the German submarine U-223 fired three torpedoes. One torpedo hitting the Dorchester a mid-ship below the water line causing a tremendous explosion, fire and death. In less than 30 minutes the ship settled to the bottom of the Atlantic. 230 survivors were picked up by two escort ships making this the third largest loss of life in American Naval warfare during WWII.
There were four Chaplains on the Dorchester that morning. All four Chaplains distinguished themselves as they stepped forward with the ship ablaze and the abandon ship horn sounding --- they stood their ground and began praying for the men --- THIS WAS KINGDOM BUSINESS --- many of those they were praying for would not make it.
One witness, Private William B. Bednar, found himself floating in oil-smeared water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. "I could hear men crying, pleading, praying," Bednar recalls. "I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going."
The four chaplains were:
Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist
Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish
Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed
Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic
"Witnesses of that terrible night remember hearing the four men offer prayers for the dying and encouragement for those who would live," says Wyatt R. Fox, son of Reverend Fox.
Another sailor, Petty Officer John J. Mahoney, tried to re-enter his cabin but was stopped by Rabbi Goode. Mahoney, concerned about the cold Arctic air, explained he had forgotten his gloves. "Never mind," Goode responded. "I have two pairs." The Rabbi then gave the petty officer his own gloves. In retrospect, Mahoney realized that Rabbi Goode was not conveniently carrying two pairs of gloves, and that the rabbi had decided not to leave the Dorchester.
By this time, most of the men were topside, and the chaplains opened a storage locker and began distributing life jackets. It was then that Engineer Grady Clark witnessed an astonishing sight. When there were no more lifejackets in the storage room, the chaplains removed theirs and gave them to four frightened young men.
"It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven," said John Ladd, another survivor
When last seen all four Chaplains were arm in arm as the ship sank and the sea rolled over them.
The four Chaplains on the Dorchester --- their story --- their bravery and love for their fellowmen has survived in stain glass windows at the West Point Chapel, in the Pentagon and the Chapel at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.
A posthumous Special Medal for Heroism, never before given and never to be given again, was authorized by Congress and awarded by the President Eisenhower in 1961.
Prayer: Father, thank you for Memorial Day each year where we can show our appreciation for all those who gave their lives so freedom rings. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
3) WHITE HOUSE PROCLAMATION - MEMORIAL DAY
For more than two centuries, Americans have been called to defend the founding ideals of our democracy. On Memorial Day, a grateful Nation remembers the proud patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of liberty's blessings.
From the opening battles of the American Revolution through the turmoil of the Civil War, to World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, to the Persian Gulf and today's operations in the war on terror in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, the members of our military have built a tradition of honorable and faithful service. As we observe Memorial Day, we remember the more than one million Americans who have died to preserve our freedom, the more than 140,000 citizens who were prisoners of war, and all those who were declared missing in action. We also honor our veterans for their dedication to America and their sacrifice.
This year, we honor many heroes by observing the 60th anniversary of D-Day on the beaches of Normandy, and by dedicating the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. In a radio address on June 6, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt described these service members as the "pride of our Nation," who struggled to preserve our civilization. The fallen from that fateful day and that war will always be remembered. They hold a cherished place in the history of the United States and in the memories of the people they liberated.
Today, all who wear the uniform of the United States are serving at a crucial hour in history, and each has answered a great call to serve our Nation on the front lines of freedom. As we continue to fight terrorism and promote peace and freedom-, let us pray for the safety and strength of our troops, for God's blessing on them and their families, and for those who have lost loved ones.
On this Memorial Day, we honor all of our fallen soldiers, their commitment to our country, and their legacy of patriotism and sacrifice. By giving their lives in the cause of freedom, these heroes have protected and inspired all Americans.
In respect for their devotion to America, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved on May 11, 1950, as amended (64 Stat. 158), has requested the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. The Congress, by Public Law 106-579, has also designated the minute beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 31, 2004, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day. I urge the press, radio, television, and all other media to participate in these observances.
I also request the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States, and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-eighth.
GEORGE W. BUSH
4) My Prayer for this Memorial Day
Dear God, please continue to bless our nation with freedom and prosperity. Thank you for the brave men and women who serve and have served our country in the military. Please protect and watch over those currently deployed. May You grant wisdom and understanding to our country's leadership in supporting and utilizing our military. May You also grant humble and grateful hearts to those of us who bear the fruits of the efforts of our military, past and present. I ask this in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.