“The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations. … The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity. … It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.” –George Washington
In just a few short days, spring has sprung in the mountains of East Tennessee. Most of the emerging flora, however, was then covered by a very late snowfall. “This,” my children teasingly speculated, “must be global warming.”
We live in an area of our great country where the seasons are well defined. Spring is my favorite. As March closes, we are treated to the miraculous emergence of life from the bleak winter cold. Each year at this time, I marvel at God’s expression of splendid colors covering branches and grounds where the resurrection of life was awaiting its cue.
I am humbled to recount three additional examples of “splendid colors” that I chanced upon in recent days, each with a common but indissoluble bond between them.
Most of last week I attended national security briefings hosted by Maj. General Maury Forsyth, Commandant, Air War College, Maj. General David Eidsaune, Commander of Eglin AFB’s Air Armament Center, and Lt. General Donny Wurster, Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlbert Field.
It always does my spirit good to be back in the company of uniformed Patriots, those who “support and defend” their oaths with blood and life – their own. The business of our war fighters is deadly serious, and the esprit de corps among their ranks is second to none.
Among the various AFSOC briefers was a captain who stepped us through the execution of Operation Commando Wrath, an action in the harsh northeastern mountains of Afghanistan to kill or capture Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Taliban leader of Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin.
The helmet cameras worn by Green Berets of the 3rd Special Forces Group made it clear how treacherous the terrain was for infiltration. Once on the ground, Army and Air Force special operators took immediate fire from snipers on the high ground, and two friendlies, both Afghan interpreters, were killed.
In the 6.5-hour battle that ensued, nine Americans were wounded, and one of those, a young AFSOC combat controller on his first deployment, Staff Sgt. Zachary Rhyner (then a senior airman), was severely wounded.
Despite his wounds, Zach directed more than 50 “danger close” air attacks from F-15s above, and provided suppressive fire with his M-4 against insurgent positions to cover the extraction of the wounded and the exfiltration of the team. For this action, Zach was awarded his service branch’s highest award, the Air Force Cross.
In typical form, the young NCO said, “Any other combat controller in the same position would’ve done just what I did.” (This is bad news for the bad guys, because he’s right.)
Additionally, 10 Green Berets were awarded Silver Stars – all of them earned the hard way.
For your resolute service to our country, thank you, Zach. And thanks to all those Patriots who were with you that day.
Back home a couple days later, I ran into an old friend whom I hadn’t seen for almost 15 years – one of my personal heroes, Jac Chambliss.
Like that young airman, Jac is a Patriot – a man whose character and zeal for life does not know surrender. He is a lawyer by trade but a philosopher at heart, a renaissance man. As I walked into a restaurant for a meeting, Jac’s familiar voice called out and I greeted him at his table where he and some colleagues were taking a lunch break. One of those with him was his personal assistant, Lorraine, who has worked with Jac for 62 years.
Although Jac has almost reached the century mark, he rarely misses a day of work at his firm, which now employs 70 attorneys and all their support staff. He has written many books, several since his 95th birthday, and has been writing essays since 1932 on a wide range of topics, most with the subtheme of liberty. (Jac was a Naval gunnery officer in WWII, serving in the South Pacific, so he knows full well the price of liberty.)
Years ago, before family and career made my life much more complicated, I would pick Jac up at his office and we’d take sack lunches out into the countryside or to his family’s nature preserve, where he would read poetry or excerpts from his voluminous journals.
Jac taught me some important things about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but the greatest lesson was how to see God’s face in creation. I can’t help but see Him in everything now.
On the eve of his 100th year, Jac is fond of quoting the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas: “Do not go gentle into that good night, old age should burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
For your friendship and mentorship, thank you, Jac.
Shortly after this encounter with Jac, I visited my local barber for a “high and tight.” When the fellow in the chair ahead of me was done, and the barber pulled back his cape, I saw that he had no arms, nor even buds where his arms might have been. He stepped out of the chair, retrieved 10 dollars and a tip from his sandal “handing” it to the barber, walked to the door and opened it with his foot, walked out to his car, got in, started it up and drove away.
I watched with amazement, for this fellow didn’t seem the least bit inconvenienced by his circumstances.
I asked the barber who he was, and I called Richard Stephens yesterday. He graciously agreed to tell me his story so that I could tell you.
Richard lost his arms in an electrocution accident in 2002 when he was an apprentice lineman. Those who are born without limbs learn to compensate from birth, but Richard was 24 years old when he was repairing a power pole – and “woke up in the hospital three weeks later with no arms.” He had to relearn how to do almost everything, but he has undertaken that challenge with a perseverance and fortitude that few could muster.
His car has a setup on the floorboard with a small steering wheel for his left foot, and he brakes and accelerates with his right. Shifting gears, honking the horn and other functions are located on the dash, where he can reach those with his foot.
Having completed his accounting degree, Richard is today working toward becoming a CPA. He uses assistive technology like an Intellikeyboard for his work as a bookkeeper, e-mail communication, and the like.
He is engaged to be married, but says one of the few things that really causes him heartache is that he will not be able to “go out in the yard and pitch ball” with the kids he hopes to have.
For the example you set for the rest of us every day of your life, especially those of us who complain about the mundane, thank you, Richard.
So, what is the common but indissoluble bond between Zach, Jac and Richard, from which they draw their strength, fortitude and inspiration? They are all Christians, men of faith. They might describe and exercise their faith differently, but they are, at their core, men of faith, in possession of a trust, assurance and conviction shared by tens-of-millions of fellow Patriots.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, appropriately celebrated in our country each year as the dormant season of winter yields to new life in spring, is the foundation of our belief that life can arise miraculously from the hard darkness of apparent death, that there is hope even in the bleakest of winters.
Our Founders understood that faith in God is indelibly linked to liberty.
Thomas Jefferson declared, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time. The hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.” Shortly before his death, he wrote, “Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence.”
James Madison stated, “The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it.”
John Adams averred, “It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe.”
John Jay affirmed, “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.”
Justice Joseph Story, however, cautioned us: “It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether any free government can be permanent, where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape.”
Looking at the degraded state of constitutional rule of law today, and the abject corruption of our executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, it would appear that “separation of church and state” has proven conclusively that liberty is in great peril when its source, the God of all nature, is evicted from those institutions.
That notwithstanding, true liberty is in fact a state of mind, an understanding of Who provides this blessing through all eternity. In the words of the Apostle Paul to the Colossians: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
From your brothers and sisters at PatriotPost.US, we wish you a blessed day in celebration of our Savior.
“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.’ So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’ So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.” –Matthew 28:1-9
Publisher’s Note: In observance of Good Friday and preparation for Resurrection Sunday, your Patriot editors and staff take leave from the rigors of news and policy analysis and the demands of our editorial deadlines in order to focus on an eternal message, indeed a Christian message. To our Patriot readers of faiths other than Christianity, we hope that this edition serves to deepen your understanding of our faith – and the faith of so many of our Founders. (As always, permission to forward or reprint is granted.)
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