Tag Archive | military

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This wasn’t always one of my favourite tunes of the season.  What I perceived as a plodding pace and dark minor key, didn’t express Christmas exuberance as I once preferred.

However..

That all changed when I listened to Johnny Cash’s recording of this song, and heard bright hopefulness through deep pain.

And so goes the history of this original poem by American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Longfellow’s fairly pleasant life turned upside down in 1861 when the Civil War began.  Only one day later, his wife died tragically in a home fire.  Then in 1863, he learned that his oldest son, Charles, was critically wounded in battle.   Longfellow’s journalings reveal a broken heart and despair, stating that his holidays were ‘inexpressibly sad.’

However, on Christmas Day, 1864, Longfellow truly Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, and penned this poem.   Several stanzas of his original writing aren’t included in modern day hymnals, probably because of their specific references to the Civil War.   That’s regrettable, because each verse is part of a complete story.  What begins with obvious despair and grief, continues with a thread of hope, and concludes with the triumphant message of God’s faithfulness–He is NOT dead!–and only in Him is found peace on earth, good will to men.

I’ve included all the original verses, and uploaded two terrific versions of this song in the blue Music Box; one by Johnny Cash from his CD, The Christmas Spirit,  the other, by Casting Crowns on their Peace on Earth CD.

 

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

 
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
 
Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

 

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 

Lest We Forget

 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits!”

God and Soldier Forgotten

 

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.  Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God…”  Deuteronomy 8:11-14

 

We have short-term memories as individuals and as nations.  God knew this only too well.  Others too..once upon a time, some insightful wise men noted the dilemma, and decided to dedicate certain days on the calendar as signposts to assist our flailing memories.  There’s Valentine’s Day, to remind us to say I love you to our most beloved.  And Thanksgiving, so we remember to be thankful!  It’s ludicrous that we require such reminders!  Nevertheless….we do.

So on Veteran’s Day, let’s remember with thankful hearts, the veterans of today and yesterday, as we go about enjoying our homes, our food, and freedoms, small and large, which many can only dreamed of. 

And more importantly (I can say this as a veteran), let’s not forget our Lord and Saviour, Who gives us each breath, directs our daily path, and watches over us as we sleep.   We must not forget the Cross and the sufferings of Jesus, which provide for all who believe, freedom from sin, a guarantee of death swallowed up in victory, and toil that is not in vain! (I Cor.15:57) 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of  His benefits.  Who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit; Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;  Who satisfies your years with good things…”  Psalm 103:2-5

Say Thanks Today

There are so many servicemen and women who aren’t “home for the holidays.”  They’re making the best of a difficult situation, as are their families back home.  PLEASE, take time to pray for them, then write a note to one today!  It only takes a minute—seriously!!    Click here:   Xerox-Let’s Say Thanks!

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Memorial Day

TAPS

This is dedicated to any and all touched by the loss of a servicemember, whether in WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, the Cold War, Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, to losses during “peacetime.” 

Thank you! 

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Glory into Shame

I read a devotional in Spurgeon the other day, which may tie together a number of, seemingly, random posts we’ve made recently.  John wrote about the shared glory of Jesus and His Father, then I detoured to a letter by Alistair Begg about not letting go of the cross and all Jesus did for us.  Then, I couldn’t let the heroic actions and honor of a Navy SEAL go unnoticed or unannounced.  But there’s a thread that ties these together, I believe.

Spurgeon quotes Psalm 4:2,  “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame?” 

He continues:

An instructive writer has made a sad list of the honours that the blinded people of Israel awarded to their long-expected King. First, they gave Him a procession of honour, in which Roman legionaries, Jewish priests, men and women took part, He Himself bearing His cross.  This is the triumph that the world awards to Him who comes to overthrow man’s direst foes…”

“..The cross was, in fact, the full expression of the world’s feeling toward Him, ‘There,’ they seemed to say, ‘Son of God, this is the manner in which God Himself should be treated, could we reach Him.'”

And so He is. 

Ah yes, look how the God Who Saves is treated–His name has become a curse word, His presence omitted out of history and education, His creational power diminished by a few triumphant one-celled blobs, His followers persecuted worldwide, His life taught as a myth, His purpose defined as a weak martyr (at best), His death, deserving, His resurrected life, a fable.  His glory, shame.

Turning glory to shame knows no bounds.  The day after MA2 (SEAL) Monsoor received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions, his cause was questioned, his fellow servicemember’s accomplishments diminished, his leaders berated, and his general paraded before an inquisition of ungrateful “public servants” who awoke in the comforts of their safe, American homes. “This is the triumph” that our country awards those who seek to overthrow a dire foe! 

Everything within me wants to shout, “Unfair, unjust!”  Whether it’s the brutal treatment of Christians around the world, elevating murderers, liars, or terrorists, derriding belief in a living, Creator God, or viewing evil as good and good as evil.  My voice cries out with the Psalmist and with those in Revelation 6:10, “How long?!” 

Then I recall something else Spurgeon said:

Patience, then believer, eternity will right the wrongs of time.”

And I remember other Psalmist cries:

When I pondered to understand this; it was troublesome in my sight, until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end.” Psalm 73:16,17  NASB

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:14 NASB

And in the New Testament:

but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” I Cor. 1:27 NASB

So, we (I) need to always keep the “end of the story” in mind.  God will turn the world’s glory into shame.

And His shame into glory.

 Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” 

  Revelation 5:12 NASB

Tribute to a Fellow and Fallen Sailor

Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor

Today’s post is written in honour and tribute to a fallen Sailor, Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor, whose service to our country resulted in being awarded the Medal of Honor today–posthumously.  Excerpts from the MSN article is included, along with several links below, if you’d like to know more about this dedicated Sailor.  I make no apologies for my patriotism and support of our troops, their leaders, and their Commander in Chief.

MSNBC:  “….Navy SEAL Michael A. Monsoor had fast thinking to do when a live grenade came out of nowhere to bounce off his chest: Take the clear path to safety that he had but his comrades didn’t, try to toss it safely away, or throw himself on top of it.   With barely an instant’s hesitation on that Iraqi rooftop, Monsoor took the last course, sacrificing his life to save the men around him. For that, President Bush on Tuesday awarded him the Medal of Honor.

“In an East Room ceremony, Bush presented the nation’s highest military honor to Monsoor’s still-grieving parents, Sally and George Monsoor. About 250 guests, including his sister and two brothers, fellow SEALS, other Medal of Honor winners, many friends and GOP Sen. John McCain and other members of Congress, looked on quietly.

“‘The Medal of Honor is awarded for an act of such courage that no one could rightly be expected to undertake it,’ Bush said. ‘Yet those who knew Michael Monsoor were not surprised when he did.’  …Monsoor is only the third [Medal of Honor recipient] from the Iraq war, and Bush’s lip trembled and tears streamed down his cheeks as the official citation was read with the details of his bravery.   The emotional proceedings at the White House came as the top U.S. general and diplomat in Iraq opened two days of testimony across town on Capitol Hill on the status of the war, which has killed more than 4,020 U.S. military personnel…

“…on Sept. 29, 2006, Monsoor and his two American teammates, plus members of the Iraqi Army, were on a rooftop in a Ramadi residential area known as a stronghold for the Sunni insurgency. They were providing early warning and sniper cover for a mission aimed at trying to clear the neighborhood.   After a long day of back-and-forth engagement and evidence that the enemy was closing them off, Monsoor and the two other SEALS moved to a confined outcropping of the roof for a better lookout position. An unseen insurgent lobbed a grenade, which hit Monsoor in the chest and landed on the floor in front of him. He yelled a warning, but quickly saw that his fellow SEALS, not positioned near the exit like he was, wouldn’t be able to get clear in time. Monsoor fell onto the grenade just as it exploded, absorbing the blast with his body and dying from the injuries about 30 minutes later. Others suffered shrapnel wounds, but no one else was killed.   The Garden Grove, Calif., native, was 25 years old.  ‘Mr. and Mrs. Monsoor: America owes you a debt that can never be repaid,’ Bush said. ‘This nation will always cherish the memory of your son.'”

Quotes from the press release:

“He earned their confidence with his attention to detail and quiet work ethic. One of Mike’s officers remembers an instructor once asking after an intense training session, ‘What’s the deal with the Monsoor guy? He just says, “Roger that,” to everything.’

Perhaps the greatest tribute to Mike’s life is the way different service members all across the world responded to his death. Army soldiers in Ramadi hosted a memorial service for the valiant man who had fought beside them. Iraqi Army scouts — whom Mike helped train — lowered their flag, and sent it to his parents. Nearly every SEAL on the West Coast turned out for Mike’s funeral in California. As the SEALs filed past the casket, they removed their golden tridents from their uniforms, pressed them onto the walls of the coffin. The procession went on nearly half an hour. And when it was all over, the simple wooden coffin had become a gold-plated memorial to a hero who will never be forgotten.

White House press release video (approx. 14 mins)

Navy Website Link:  This website gives a full summary of MA2 Monsoor’s actions, his biography, complete citation of his award, and some photos from his military service.

Thank you to MA2 Monsoor and his family for their sacrifice for a grateful nation, as well as for all those who just complain.