Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Not always.

I just finished a tremendous book about Andrew Jackson. Fascinating man with such a wide scope of opinion and views on people, life, spirituality and a host of other issues.

An orphan at fourteen, the revolutionary war took the lives of his brothers and mother. He saw little distinction between family and nation. In his eyes, they melded together into one formation and one loving devotion. He was passionate in his pursuit to defend and preserve both.

He is said by some to have been the president most like you and me. During his presidency, the culture was absorbed in fascination with politics, patriotism and religion. “My Country Tis of Thee” and “Amazing Grace” were products of this era and culture.

“He could be incredibly violent toward Indians and decidedly generous. Still there was nothing redemptive about his Indian policy.” There was conflict that is more than obvious in hindsight of nearly two hundred years. The way the United States acquired much of it’s property is downright scandalous. The wrongs and injustices perpetrated on the Native American can never be undone. Simple apologies from a generation far removed from the original offenses are almost meaningless.

One of the most poignant quotes from this book “Andrew Jackson: American Lion” by Jon Meacham . . .

Not all great presidents were always good, and neither individuals nor nations are without evil.

Andrew Jackson was blinded by the prejudices of his age and owned at least 150 slaves. It’s easy, in the year nearly 2010, to judge.

While I find this all very interesting and love to read the history of the world and particularly of the United States, there are so many undeniable facts that cause me to reflect with some degree of what I can only call shame and recoil that God hasn’t called us into judgment over the public escapades of our past, much more so over the things done in secret “in the best interest of the Nation.”

I won’t go on about the embarrassing episodes in our country’s history. Most of us are painfully aware. We proceed to live with bowed heads, thankful for God’s Grace and Mercy over us as a people – praying for forgiveness as individuals and as a nation for the missteps and intentional offenses we’ve committed. Thankful that none of us gets what we deserve. Justice is for another time. His mercies are new every morning.

So with that said, there are times when I’m proud to be an American. Let’s make this clear though - I find the word “pride” has few applications in the life of one trying to walk in the steps of Christ. And in the light of all the public observations of those we celebrate as “famous” I have to say, I don’t know why we expect people who’ve never been to the Cross to behave as if they have been, when it’s hard enough for those of us who have been there to behave as if we have been there! I’m embarrassed at my own judgmental attitude when I’m aware of my own life and it’s twists, turns and failures.

While I was in the Philippines in September, I was able to visit the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. We were able to pass slowly through this beautiful memorial to the more than twenty thousand who died in the islands during the second world war. Those who live in the Philippines are thankful for the United States of America and the part our service men and women played in securing their nation.

The cemetery and memorial are beautifully maintained by the United States. It is a quiet, humbling place. A place that honors many whose bodies were never recovered. Their families were simply and respectfully informed of the loss of one they loved.

As I walked this memorial, looking at the names on the wall, watching the landscape pass filled with white crosses marking the life of some young soldier, marine or sailor, I found myself thankful for those that made the decision to stand at the door of these beautiful islands, these sweet people, and hold off the oppressive forces that wanted to overrun and dominate them.

Each marker in this memorial represents a person, a body, a soul. One who was born on that one day to a family that eagerly awaited the arrival. “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl” they said that day. They celebrated birthdays with their friends, that first day of school, they went to ballgames, had dates, made their folks proud when they announced they were going into the service. Moms cried when they got letters from the South Pacific. Moms and Dads worried and prayed over each of these children grown into grownups. Then they let go into the Eternal Hands when there was nothing else they could do.

Yes, we’ve made some monumental mistakes as a nation but we’ve done some wonderful good, too. Just like you and just like me.

Stay Thankful always. Do good.

I welcome your comments, questions and discussions.



Faith Forward Forum said...

Wayne, I just wanted you to know that the videos you made from overseas are tremendous and very challenging to me. Thanks for taking the time to go, and to edit and upload them. I know a lot of people will watch them and consider what they mean for them. Great work, man.

Anonymous said...

I'm a sucker for history too...the dates elude me cause I'm a story person not a numbers person. My favorite place in the whole world is the Smithsonian Institute... A building for every subject you can think of history to science to entertainment to inventions. If you ever get to Washington DC don't miss it.You can even take vitual tours on line.

God brought some people to mind that I called to help take care of my daughter. I'm praying and so are my friends and family that God will provide the right teacher match for her. Sometimes the feelings just overwelm me.I know God is in control. Sometimes its like you're on a rollercoaster ride in the dark... you know you're safe but it can still be scary.

When my huband had surgery related to yours and knee surgeries due to sacrificing his body for football, it took almost a year before he was 100% back to feeling like himself even though he was up and about soon after the surgeries. He's your age too. YOu'll be in our prayers.

He went to this Oiler reunion a couple of years ago. They were honoring them at a Texans game. My husband was and is good friends with a few who asked him to come even though he didn't play with them. He said that everyone was suffering from knee injuries and the aches and pains that comes with the sport. George Bush Sr. got off the elevator with his big ol' infectious smile and gave them a few encouraging words and said he loved watching them play. They all stood straighter and prouder as they walked on to the field at halftime that night to be presented because of those few encouraging words from someone they all admired. Their aches and pains didn't seem to bother them as much because of an accidental meeting with the former president who got off at the wrong floor going to his own . Back to their old mischievious tricks they made my husband come on the field with them to see if anyone noticed when they presented the team on the field. Boys never grow up! (I'm glad)

Anonymous said...

I am very humbled at the thought of people who volunteer to put their lives on the line so that we can drive down the road, get to our jobs ,and watch our children play, without fear of war breaking out in our neighborhoods or planes shooting folks down from overhead.They never have a day off they just keep plugging along doing their duties to make our country a safe place to live.I'm the one who barely makes it through patriotic songs or the song about all the divisions of the service without quietly crying tears of pride for my country and family members who fought to make it safe. We have had a lot of wonderful leaders who loved the Lord and America with everything in them . Our country is still the finest place in the world to live and raise a family. Thanks for giving it a spotlight in your blog about the Phillipines.