Growing up in Minnesota in the 1950s, February always meant two days off from school because of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and the celebration of George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd. But sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s dates shifted—and what I had experienced as two “for-sure” days off became one “iffy” day off on a Monday—to celebrate “Presidents’ Day.” But there is an interesting aspect of these two presidents that our history books typically miss--the role of their wives and marriages in their leadership and presidencies.
When the same story keeps coming up, I pay attention. There must be something that God wants me to know or do—or share. So when my husband visited a chaplain’s office and saw a copy of the 1948 commemorative stamp of “The Four Chaplains”, signed by a survivor of the sinking of the U.S.A.T. Dorchester in 1943, I wasn’t surprised. The story of the four heroic chaplains was one my husband and I had recently studied and even included in a new Bible study. Perhaps you know about Reverend Clark Poling, Rabbi Alexander Goode, Father John Washington, and Reverend George Fox—but if not, let me share this amazing story.
I’ve been working on this writing for the last nine years. And it’s not done yet. I wanted to put down in writing, on “cyber-paper,” what I have lived and observed for most of my adult life. It’s what I love about our military . . . the people, the mission, the life. The truth is . . . as members of the United States military, people are watching you.
It was Christmas Eve in Thailand, 1972. Thanks to Armed Forces Radio “Silent Night” was playing in our room . . . but it was not really a “silent” night at all. I was a young Air Force wife visiting my husband serving that year in Southeast Asia—but even in my naïveté I knew something big was imminent. Linebacker II was in progress—the 1972 Christmas bombing of Hanoi—and the constant sound of take-offs (“please, Lord”) and landings (“thank you, Lord”) from the Air Base was surreal in dissonance with the sweet music I was hearing on the radio. A rescue was in the works, and the POWs, so long tortured and confined in Hanoi, heard and felt the thunderous aircraft noise with great hope and expectation for their eventual release from captivity.
Sgt. Jacob Daniel DeShazer was a crew member in the legendary Doolittle Raiders, a team of 80 brave military servicemen who volunteered to bomb Tokyo in retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. DeShazer was among those captured by the Japanese Army after bailing out of his plane over Japanese-occupied China. He spent 40 months in captivity, 34 months of it in solitary confinement, and was the victim of cruel torture and starvation. In his own words, DeShazer said, “My hatred for the enemy nearly drove me crazy. . .
Each year we celebrate Thanksgiving in the tradition of the Plymouth colony’s harvest at the end of their first year in the New World, 1621. Did these early settlers have cause to thank an Almighty God for their condition? Consider the following facts: The Pilgrims did not come to America to seek religious freedom.
The speech known as “The Gettysburg Address” was the dedication ceremony message for the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, given by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863—154 years ago today . . . But have you ever wondered how this particular visit to the battlefield affected President Lincoln? Coming just 4 ½ months after the Union army’s decisive defeat of the Confederate forces at the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln was so moved by the view of acres of soldiers’ graves that he gave his heart and life to Jesus Christ right there.
Where's our next assignment? Where do we go next—or do we get out? Ever asked those questions? Of course . . . it's part of being in the military. We seem to routinely assess our current assignments, and then decide what the options are for our next move. Of course filling out a "dream sheet" can bring out negativity in all of us—with the cynical attitude that we will NOT get what we put down as first, or even last, choice!
Being the wife of a Vietnam Vet, I served during those years on the home front. I served proudly, alongside the best, including many POW wives. Many of us volunteer now with today’s military spouses—helping with our own brand of training while observing, often up close and personal, a much more difficult war with its multiple deployments and unseen enemy. I have heard it said that Vietnam vets serve so well now because they were so ill-treated back then—and they don’t want our current forces to experience that. Perhaps that’s some of it, but I don’t think that’s all of it—by any means. I think they serve well because it’s the right thing to do.
have the great privilege of coaching the Upward cheerleading squad and am married to the fearless Upward referee commissioner. We have four lovely children, three of whom are participating in Upward activities this morning—but it’s likely that none of this would have happened if events had gone a bit differently exactly nine years ago today. It was on that fateful morning that I found myself among the hundreds of government workers being hastily evacuated from the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D. C. Word was circulating that YES, another plane was headed right for us. I was twenty-seven years old and had been married for only six weeks.