I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes on this day. It speaks of ideas that often get lost as we individually and collectively press forward in facing challenges in life. Those ideas are discernment, perseverance, justice, and fortitude. Plato called these the ‘Cardinal Virtues’ because every other character trait hinged on these. In this day and age when we rage against things, both past and present that we don’t like, and we respond by tearing down statues and changing definitions as if this will make the struggle go away, we forget that these ‘Memorials’ are there to remind us of what we struggled against and in many cases, overcame by resorting to the cardinal virtues. Our founding fathers knew the struggle of slavery needed to be addressed when they wrote the Declaration of Independence. They also understood that they must establish the framework of foundation principles necessary to address this, and many other issues. If they failed to do so, nothing would ever change. So they declared that ‘all men were created equal’ by our Sovereign God, who established Natural Law, by which He endowed every human being with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It was on this precipice the both Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King struggled to raise this country up too… against all odds.
The ‘Memorials’ remind us of these struggles and what it took to play out the virtues of perseverance, discernment, justice, and fortitude. Tearing down statues and changing definitions that we don’t like and get in the way of our pursuit of our appetites, only diminishes what God intended us to be; and instead of rising to the heights of ‘virtue’, it causes us to wallow in the mud of self righteousness.
The ‘memorial’ of one ordinary man is brought to the forefront in this quote that reflects the inward struggle each of us deals with every day. That struggle is to do what’s right in the light of our Creator’s Law established in His design, or… to reject His perfect will and follow our own appetites. Obviously from the number of ‘Memorials’ we have and what each represents, this inward struggle is not an easy one, having caused individuals and nations to clash. But our God promises that “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chon 7:14)
“This is the first time in our history that this ceremony has been held on the West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city’s special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand. Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man. George Washington, father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. And then beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln. Beyond dim monuments, monuments to heroism, is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom. Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam. Under such a marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barber shop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the Western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire. We are told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading, “My Pledge,” he had written these words: “America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.” The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort, and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds; to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us. And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans. God bless you and thank you. Thank you very much.”
~ Ronald Reagan
Praying 4 U
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, and grandfather with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is a member of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.
Daily Quote: “God wants to see prayers that are filled with genuine praise and thanksgiving for what He has done in the past. He wants our hearts to be filled with awe and gratitude for His blessings. He wants us to set up memorials in our hearts testifying to the provisions He has given us.” – Michael Youssef
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25