freedom and faith…

“Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot.
Religion is more needed in democratic societies than in any other”

President Ronald Reagan during a 1988 address marking Georgetown University’s 200th anniversary.


(piping plover / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

[Seek] authentic freedom [and] avoid every kind of illusory freedom,
every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into
the whole truth about man and the world.

Pope John Paul II
Redemptor Hominis 1979

Why we must remember….

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.
We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream.
It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Ronald Reagan


Theodore “Ted” Melvin Peterson

Periodically I receive emails from Fold3 HQ–a site similar to something like an Ancestry.com but
directed more toward Military Service records.

Yesterday the blog site offered the story about 1st Lt. Theodore Peterson,
a member of the WWII 8th Army Air Corps.

Today, Memorial Day, seems to be the perfect day that I, in turn, share it with you.
Petersosn’s story is but one of a myriad of stories as to why we pause today…
not to go to a picnic or to the beach or lake…but a day to remember and recall
that our freedom is, as President Reagan so eloquently stated, “freedom is never
more than one generation away from extinction”

You may click on the link at the bottom of the article in order to visit the site and read
the article in full or other articles…as this is a site worth visiting.

On May 29, 1943, 1st Lt. Theodore “Ted” Melvin Peterson was shot down near
St. Quay-Portrieux in German-occupied France. He was rescued by brave villagers and the French resistance,
spent two months making his way across France,
and then hiked 11 days over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain and freedom.
In a remarkable twist of fate, Peterson and his rescuers would meet again in an emotional
reunion 33 years later.

A member of the 8th Army Air Corps, 379th Bomb Group and 526th Bomb Squadron,
Peterson was based out of Kimbolton Airbase near London.
On the afternoon of May 29th, Peterson and his crew received mission orders.
They were to fly their B-17 “Flying Fortress” and bomb the submarine pens at St. Nazaire.
As they approached the French coastline, a volley of German anti-aircraft fire riddled Peterson’s plane,
blowing a large hole in the wing.
Several engines caught fire and they were losing altitude.

Peterson ordered everyone to bail out.

As captain, Peterson was the last man out, and just 1,000 feet off the ground when
he donned a parachute and jumped. “The ride to the ground took about 30 seconds.
I landed by a small tree in an open field. I quickly pulled out my pocket knife
and cut the shroud line.
One of the procedures in attempting to escape from enemy territory is to destroy the
evidence that you have landed,” said Peterson. The plane crashed into the bay moments
after Peterson bailed out.

The Germans saw Peterson’s chute descending and were speeding towards his position
when villagers quickly came to his rescue. They escorted him to a quiet, wooded ravine.
“I had a few moments to contemplate my position.

I remember being alone on my knees thanking my Father in Heaven for my life being spared,”
he said. Villagers brought him a change of clothes and guided him to the center of
a tall wheat field where they directed him to lie down and hide.
As darkness fell, Peterson heard the snapping twigs of someone approaching.
To his surprise, a small boy about 2-years-old emerged from the wheat.
He presented Peterson with a gift – a rose and a handkerchief.

To the French, Peterson was a hero.

The boy snuggled up next to Peterson and fell asleep.
Over the next two months, with the aid of the French underground, Peterson made his way to
Paris and across France. By August, he arrived at the foothills of the Pyrenees.
For 11 days, often without food or water, he was guided over the snow-packed mountains.
Finally, on August 16, 1943, he made his way to Barcelona and hitched a ride on a Royal Air Force
plane back to England.
Peterson had become the 69th Allied aviator to escape occupied France.

The passing of time and the trauma of war dimmed some of Peterson’s memories.
He’d returned home with the rose and the handkerchief as mementos from the war and kept
them carefully stored, but had forgotten where he received them.
In 1976, Peterson and his family returned to St. Quay-Portrieux.
With the help of local people familiar with the Resistance,
Peterson attempted to identify significant landmarks, specifically the field where he landed.
Finally, at a loss, the Petersons’ pulled their car to the side of the road and got
out to reevaluate.

They hailed a passing truck to ask for assistance.
The driver got out of the truck and immediately threw his arms around Ted in recognition,
despite the many years.
He said, “Do you remember my little brother, Gilbert?
He came out to visit you in the field the day you were shot down.
He fell asleep next to you and we searched frantically for him all night long!
Did you get the rose and handkerchief my mother sent for you?”
A sudden spark of memory flooded over Peterson as he remembered the boy presenting him with the gift.
The two men embraced with tears streaming down both of their cheeks.

As a tribute to young aviators like Peterson, the village of St. Quay-Portrieux salvaged
the propeller of Peterson’s plane from the ocean floor and restored it to stand as a monument
to Peterson and others who came to save France.

To learn more about WWII and aviators like Peterson, Search Fold3 today.

Shot Down Over France

humility lives among us…we just happen to over look it.


(Master Sargent William Crawford)

During his daily readings, my husband recently stumbled on a story that touched his heart.
It was a story that he, in turn, felt compelled to share with me.

It’s that type of story.

It is so much that type of story, that I, in the same like spirit, felt compelled that I should
now share with you.

It’s a story of war, sacrifice, loss, life, discovery as well as that of a quiet and very deep humility.

A forgotten story really.

And it seemed that it was to remain a forgotten story…that was until one day
in 1976 when a young airman cadet, studying at the United States Air Force Academy,
who much like my husband happened upon a particular story during his daily reading…
a story that in turn, deeply touched his heart.

One that he knew he would not only need to investigate but would be compelled to eventually
share in like kind.

It is a story that I pray continues to touch all of our hearts…

It is a story that unfolded in the mid-1970s when a couple of young Air Force Academy cadets
discovered a hidden unknown little fact about their school’s quiet and unassuming janitor.

A story that would have our current culture’s minds racing to the muck and mire of the nefarious…
but rather it was to be a tale that harkened to the amazing and the near miraculous.

Perhaps it was the way he carried himself in an unassuming and humble manner,
but day after day hundreds of Air Force Academy cadets would pass this janitor in the hall
oblivious to the greatness that was among them.

In the mid-1970s, William Crawford might spend one day sweeping the halls and another cleaning
the bathrooms, but it was a day approximately 30 years prior that would create for him a special
place in the history of war…

Fast forward to a military dinner in 2011…

Retired Air Force Col. James Moschgat shared Medal of Honor recipient
William “Bill” Crawford’s story last Friday night with about 200 people gathered
at the annual Pueblo Medal of Honor Foundation Golf Tournament Dinner.

Moschgat was a cadet at the Academy when, one day in the fall of 1976,
he was reading a book about individual experiences from World War II.

Moschgat said he was reading about a Colorado man named William Crawford,
an Army private who, in September 1943 in Italy, raced through intense enemy fire —
three times and on his own initiative — to detonate hand grenades on enemy gun sites.

After the battle, Crawford later was captured by the Germans and was presumed dead.
In 1945, the Medal of Honor was presented to his father, but later that year,
Crawford was found alive when a group of soldiers were rescued from German control.
Crawford re-enlisted in 1947 and retired in ’67 as a master sergeant.
After the Army, he went to work at the academy where, according to Moschgat,
he blended in and developed a reputation for being a shy, shuffling janitor.

Moschgat said he wondered if this war hero was the same man who cleaned his squadron’s quarters.

“I looked at my roommate and said, Jim, you’re not going to believe this,
but I think Bill our janitor is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.”

The next day, Moschgat said he showed Crawford the book and asked if it was him.
“He looked at it a moment and said it was him. He said,
‘That was a long time ago and one day in my life.’

Read the full article here:
https://medalofhonornews.com/2011/05/story-told-of-medal-of-honor-recipient.html

Crawford’s was a tale of the ordinary doing the extraordinary.
As well as that of a forgotten prisoner of war.

Once released and back home, Crawford reenlisted in the Army and eventually retired from
the Service in 1967.

Eventually making his way to that of janitor at the United States Airforce Academy.

Crawford was once heard to lament that his one regret was that he not had been awarded the medal
honor in person once it was discovered that he was actually alive as a prisoner of war and not
dead as it was presumed.

So unbeknownst to Crawford, in 1984 when then-President Ronald Reagan came to offer the commencement
speech at the Academy’s graduation, a special presentation had been arranged.
President Reagan would present the Medal of Honor, during the commencement, service to an
unsuspecting Crawford.

When Crawford passed away in 2000, he was awarded one final and unique honor for a non-airforce veteran.
He was buried in the United States Airforce Academy’s cemetery—the only member of the
United States Army afforded such a fitting tribute.

Crawford’s story reminds us of the importance of humility as well as how the ordinary
can always be extraordinary albeit humble and quiet.

https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/air-force-academy-janitor-medal-of_honor-x.html

no shame…but where are we really?

“the age of self-afflicted shame, is over…”
Mike Pompeo

Our (latest) Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo was in Cairo this past week.
And depending on your choice of news coverage, you may or may not have heard much about his trip
or of the speech he made.

And depending on that news outlet you tend to watch, read or listen to…you might have
gotten some mixed signals.

And to be honest, I’d like to be able to say huzzah to his speech…but does Pompeo’s speech mirror
the full policy of the US?

That, I’m not sure.

Our President tells us we’re pulling out of Syria.
His Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis, has resigned.
Word is that they are at odds over such a decision.

I have really appreciated what I have read about General Mattis’ leadership—I even wrote
a post about the character behind General Mattis…the type of military leader you’d want
having charge over your own son or daughter.

Last evening I heard that Trump is the most popular Republican president, in well, ever.
And as I am a huge Reaganite, I had to go double check out that latest factoid and there does some
to be some validity to such a boast.

Not that I don’t support our President, I do…it’s just that I feel that we, as a Nation,
have entered a new era of something other than…other than who and what we use to be.
An era that I’m not fond of.

Socialistic Democrat is an oxymoron that I don’t think I care to wrap my brain around.

When the likes of Joe Lieberman is publically mocked and disrespected by a  new up and coming
young Democrat, we’ve got trouble worse than most millennials will sadly ever understand.

But one thing I can appreciate is the speech that Mike Pompeo offered in Cairo.

America is not a nation that apologizes for supporting various nations.
With Israel being one of those nations—the elephant in the room when it comes
to the United States and the Middle East.

Nor shall America excuse the Muslim world for its culpability for those
who, in the name of Islam, commit heinous crimes against humanity.

We did not excuse a fallen Nazi regime.
In fact, there was an allied trial holding those who remained, accountable for their actions…
despite the argument that they were merely the following orders of others.

Here is an excerpt of Secretary Pompeo’s speech.

I found it powerful and reminiscent of an America I once knew…
I suppose we’ll see what will follow…

“It was here, in this city, another American stood before you” and, “told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology.”

Pompeo’s view is unequivocal and crystal clear: “America is a force for good in the Middle East.”
He didn’t even add the usual qualifiers about our historic imperfections.
Expect our adversaries abroad and snowflakes at home to be mighty upset at this moral clarity and self-confidence
from the greatest, freest country on Earth. Our real allies will love it.

Pompeo’s speech had three watershed components:

First, Pompeo made it clear that the chief focus of U.S. policy in the Middle East is thwarting Iran’s
dangerous and tyrannical ambitions.
While violent jihadist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda still exist and deserve our attention,
they are now a lesser threat.
Also, by condemning Obama’s decision to do nothing in 2009 and 2010 when Iranians took to the streets
to protest their oppressive regime, Pompeo opened the door to supporting Iran’s internal opposition.

Second, Pompeo specifically called out “radical Islamism” and condemned Obama for not doing so.
This is a refinement and extension of President Trump’s condemnation of “radical Islamic terrorism,”
which is the tactic that Islamists use when they go violent.

Far from semantics, this change from “Islamic terrorism” to “radical Islamism” means that finally,
40 years after Islamists took over Iran, 36 years after Islamists blew up our Marine barracks in Beirut,
and nearly 18 years after Islamists attacked us on 9/11,
we can clearly name the ideology that animates most of the problem actors in the Middle East.

In contrast to failed efforts to either spread American democracy or apologize for it,
this means we can rally all of those opposed to radical Islamism,
including monarchies and imperfect republics across the Middle East that oppose Islamist theocracy.
It means we can be clear about opposing not only terrorists like Al Qaeda,
but Islamist political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Third, Pompeo outlined the Trump administration’s rigorous efforts at diplomacy across the Middle East,
which have contributed to radical change and unprecedented cooperation.
Pompeo disclosed that “Egypt, Oman, Kuwait and Jordan have all been instrumental in thwarting Iran’s
efforts to evade sanctions,” and lauded assistance from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

He added that “private companies in France, Germany, Britain and elsewhere have calculated
that enriching themselves through work with the regime is bad for business” –
a gentle and much-deserved slap at the governments of those fading allies
that have actively opposed getting tough on Iran.

Pompeo reminded the audience that last year,
“the Israeli national anthem played as an Israeli judo champion was crowned the winner
of a tournament in the UAE.”
This story and scores like it have been missed by our mainstream media.
American strength and moral clarity and fear about the threat from Iran are dissolving
old animosities and creating new alliances. We may actually see new Arab embassies in Israel.

Finally but crucially, Pompeo included a cautionary principle regarding what the U.S.
is willing to do in the Middle East.
Remarking about U.S. support he said: “But ‘assist’ is the key word.
We ask every peace-loving nation of the Middle East to shoulder new responsibilities for
defeating Islamist extremism.”

This is the fundamental essence of “America First.”
We will not apologize for America, we will stand up for our interests,
and we will cooperate with our allies as long as they are willing to share the burden
of preserving freedom.

Adding an additional touch of pragmatism, Pompeo condemned the Syrian tyrant Bashar Assad,
but cracked open the door to aiding postwar reconstruction if Assad kicks the
Iranian military out of Syria.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/pompeo-at-site-of-obamas-address-to-muslim-world-rebukes-his-legacy-age-of-self-inflicted-american-shame-is-over

This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem:
Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets,
and their tongues will rot in their mouths.
On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic.

Zechariah 14: 12-13

the take away of hope and hopefulness

“Hate corrodes the container its carried in”
Senator Alan Simpson during his eulogy of President G.H.W Bush


(image of Senator Simpson offering a eulogy during the funeral of G.H.W. Bush)

One thing I learned as an educator is that we are always learning.

When we are a part of or exposed to various learning moments, those moments
which are both known, and even most often unknown,–moments throughout our
lives, we inevitably are given gifts of the ‘take aways’…

Those nuggets and morsels of wisdom that we glean…
glimpses of that which speaks deeply to our souls.

They are the things we ruminate over…chewing on and pondering over.
They are the small gifts we receive from both moments and individuals…

If you’ve read any of my posts this week, you know I’ve been trying to take
in what I can from the life, death, mourning and now funeral of our 41st President
George H. W. Bush.

I’ve been watching the state funerals of our presidents since John F. Kennedy’s funeral
as my parents instilled that sense of duty and respect in me…
a respect extended to our presidents for their service to us, the people.
It mattered not the party, we gathered for each one—that is until I was on my own,
And I still watched…just as I did today for our 41st President.

It was never about party or politics…but it was about respect and service.

President Bush 41 was just finishing the first year of his presidency when my son
was born.
It’s one of those things written down in a baby book…” who was the president
the year you were born”…with his being Bush, mine being Eisenhower.

Most who know me, know that I was a huge fan of President Reagan.

And if you’ve read many of my posts over the years, you’d then know that the tandem
working relationships between President Ronald Reagan,
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and
Pope John Paul II all played a significant role
in my life at a time when I was just coming into my own…
coming into my own thoughts and conviction about the world around us.

They fed my keen interest and love for our democracy, freedom as well as the importance of
having a working Christian faith within that very democracy and freedom—
as the cost for each comes at a very high price.

They taught me that hope remains even when things appear hopeless…that
a Cold War could be broken, a wall could be torn down and people could taste freedom
after living a lifetime under tyranny.

The presidency of George H.W. Bush seemed to serve as an asterisk to those
four world giants and the ture gifts they offered our world.

So it comes as no surprise that I’ve been quite taken with much of what I’ve learned
throughout the course of this week regarding the life of our 41st president.

Some things that I had known and some things that I had never known.
Some things about The President, some things about his cabinet and some things
about his lifelong friends.

It has been, however, from his death that I have actually found a surprising sense
of hope—hope for this oh so divided Nation of ours.
A deep-ceded, hate-filled division that I have anguished over now for
oh so many months.

Look at these two images.

The first image of this group of American movers and shakers is at the
beginning of the President’s funeral.
It is an image of past and present.

And within that past and present is a great deal of visible stain.

This was a gathering of people who we all know don’t exactly care much for one another.
Some in the group are better at hiding their real feelings in public than
some of the others.

This historic picture shows four presidents, along with one hopeful want to be,
along with spouses gathered together, seated side by side,
in order to pay homage to one of their own.
The mood is somber yet the tension on this front row is palpable.

The second image appears to show that humor can be unifying emotion.

Humor seems to be one of the small final gifts given by the 41st President to
this group who have followed his footsteps.

And it was Al Simpson, the former senator from Wyoming and lifelong friend of
President George H. W. Bush who, in his eulogy of his dear old friend,
offered many of those stories which provided a thankful amount of humor.
A gift freely offered to all those gathered and particularly needed by those gathered on
that front row.

But it was what Senator Simpson said toward the end of his eulogy that
I found most telling of which I could only pray that those seated on that
first row would each digest in his or her own private way.

Senator Simpson noted that President Bush never “hated” anyone…

Meaning this age-old friend never heard his very important friend ever
express vehemence or disdain…for anyone…not publicly nor privately.

Not even after a difficult and challenging campaign and defeat.
Not even after the dealings with aggressive and difficult world situations.
Not even after a life spent in the often ugly and petty business of politics.
Not even despite the trials of living life after losing a young child.
As this approach to life and living was something instilled in him at a young age.

For the Senator noted that both he and Bush had learned this particular lesson
early on in their young lives as each of their mothers carried what they
called velvet hammers.

These men learned hard lessons at the knees of their mothers with one of the most important
lessons being that “hate corrodes the container it is carried in”

That container being one’s heart.

So I was now curious for a little more background behind Al Simpson…
curious because he was much funnier delivering this eulogy than I had remembered
him to be during his days in the Senate.
So I found this little bit of his background story…

Another offering of hope found in a now elderly man’s earlier life…

The story is about a one-time youthful holy terror,
who almost, and most certainly would have in today’s time, served jail time for his
life of running wild, yet who, with time and redemption, actually grew up to become
a leader, a senator and dear friend to a president.

So the first of the takeaways that I want to share from a seemingly sorrowful event is
that of hope and hopefulness.
Other takeaways will be shared later.

I want to offer Alan Simpson’s backstory regarding how this now 87-year-old survived
to come out on the upside of what was nothing more than a selfish reckless youth…

The story is a reminder that if there is hope for a youthful hellion who
no doubt seemed to be a hopeless cause, so then surely there is hope for
a group of politicians who find great disdain for one another…
The same Hope that remains available for a deeply divided Nation.

A lasting gift offered even in death by a President to his grateful yet divided Nation.
A gift that our 41st President always knew came from his faith…
that being the faith and Hope found in and freely given by Jesus Christ.

There has been a great deal of this notion of hope that I have found in these
rapidly disappearing members of this Greatest Generation…

I even read of it coming from Barbara Bush.

Just a few months ago she herself was now dying,
her son Jeb asked her if she was afraid to leave their dad behind.
Barbara unequivocably told Jeb that she will miss her husband and his father
but that she believes in Jesus Christ.
She knew that George would be okay without her as she would be home with her
Savior—all the while waiting on George to follow.

Bereft as he was when his wife of 73 years died, George senior, knew where Barbara was,
that she’d be waiting on him as his hope also rested in his faith—
faith in a Savior who would also bring him home when the time was ready.

So I offer the back story to a once difficult young man who put his trust in
the notion of hope and hopefulness as he grew to be a man who also chose
to serve others over serving self.

According to Wikipedia:
In Simpson’s words to this Court, “I was a monster.”

In that brief, in support of the claimant in the Supreme Court case,
Simpson admitted that, as a juvenile, he had been on federal probation for shooting mailboxes
and punching a cop and that he “was a monster”.

One day in Cody, Wyoming, when Simpson was in high school,
he and some friends “went out to do damage.”
They went to an abandoned war relocation structure and decided to “torch” it.
They committed arson on federal property,
a crime now punishable by up to twenty years in prison if no one is hurt,
and punishable by up to life in prison if the arson causes a person’s death.
Luckily for Simpson, no one was injured in the blaze.

Simpson not only played with fire, but also with guns.
He played a game with his friends in which they shot at rocks close to one another,
at times using bullets they stole from the local hardware store.
The goal of the game was to come as close as possible to striking someone without
actually doing so.
Again, Simpson was lucky:
no one was killed or seriously injured, or caught by their parents.

Simpson and his friends went shooting throughout their community.
They fired their rifles at mailboxes, blowing holes in several and killing a cow.
They fired their weapons at a road grader.
“We just raised hell,” Simpson says.
Federal authorities charged Simpson with destroying government property and
Simpson pleaded guilty.
He received two years of probation and was required to make restitution from his own funds –
funds that he was supposed to obtain by holding down a job.

As he [Simpson] has described it, “The older you get, the more you realize . . .
your own attitude is stupefying, and arrogant, and cocky, and a miserable way to live.”

Simpson stated “I was just dumb and rebellious and stupid.
And a different person.” and then added,
“You’re not who are when you’re 16 or 18.
You’re dumb, and you don’t care and you think you are eternal.”

And so the state where this young hellion would cause so much trouble would eventually
vote him in as their United States Senator.
Setting his life on a path to becoming dear friends with the 41st President of the United States.
A man who remembered yesterday in the Nation’s National Cathedral.

There is always hope…