VIDEO Let History Guide Us on Veterans Day

 

by ROBERT WILKIE

The Ripon Forum  Volume 53, No. 5   Veterans Day 2019

 

 

President Lincoln captured the essence of Veterans Day decades before America invented it.

During the Civil War, in summertime, Lincoln lived in a small cottage a few miles north of the White House. From there, he commuted back and forth to his strenuous job of trying to keep the nation from splintering in two.

That commute put him in daily contact with Union soldiers who were being taken to hospitals in the north of the city. A report from those days saw Lincoln riding alongside the wounded “for a considerable distance, conversing freely with the men.”

Lincoln knew as well as anyone who ever lived that those who wear the uniform are among the most important ways we have of protecting and defending those sacred ideas written into our founding documents. In 1864, he made that clear in a speech to the 189th New York Volunteers, in which he thanked them for supporting his government:

“To you who render the hardest work in its support should be given the greatest credit.”

More than 150 years later, we continue to celebrate those who love the country so much they would risk all to defend it. Many of our families tell the story of service to this great country.

My great-grandfather left a small-town law practice to join the Army in World War I, while my wife’s grandfather found himself marching up the Champs-Elysees in Paris into the Meuse-Argonne offensive at the age of 18.

My military record is modest compared to my ancestors. But it was my father’s two combat tours in Vietnam that left the indelible mark on my career. In 1969, he left us in full health, 6 feet 2 inches tall and 240 pounds, and already a veteran of fourteen months of ground combat. On February 1, 1970, he was gravely wounded in the invasion of Cambodia, and after a year of recuperating away from home, he returned to us at 120 pounds.

It was my father’s two combat tours in Vietnam that left the indelible mark on my career.

That experience is why I was so honored to be asked to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, to follow in the traditions of Lincoln and ensuring that America takes care of the men and women who carry our liberty on their shoulders. There is much we can do, and much we are doing.

We successfully implemented the MISSION Act, which gives Veterans permanent health care choices outside VA. But we’ve worked hard to improve VA, too.

We’re seeing more patients than ever before, and VA care now compares favorably to the private sector on both wait times and quality of care, and in many cases is superior.

Veterans have noticed. In a recent Veterans of Foreign Wars survey, almost three quarters of respondents reported improvements at their local VA, and more than 90 percent said they would recommend VA to others. Trust in VA has jumped to 87.7 percent, and we’re pushing to do even better.

We’re also working diligently within the Trump administration and with partners around the nation to prevent Veteran suicide. This is my top clinical priority, because every Veteran should have a chance to survive and thrive as civilians in the country they fought to defend.

We will get there not just through the efforts of VA, but with the help of families and friends and communities across this country.

The price of freedom is never free. That is the lesson today’s Veterans continue to teach us.

On November 11, when I speak at Arlington National Cemetery, I’ll be thinking about the Veterans we serve today, and how they so nobly served us. They are part of the legacy of the 41 million Americans who have worn our military uniforms to keep us safe and free.

In addition to Lincoln, I’ll be thinking of two other great men from history. One is President Eisenhower, who was embarrassed to have inherited a yacht when he assumed the Oval Office. He wanted to scrap it until his wife, Mamie, said he should keep it and only invite soldiers on board.

When he went down to the Washington Navy Yard pier to see a group of Veterans who were assembled on its deck, many of them were missing limbs or had been terribly disfigured in Korea. He gave them one final order. Eisenhower told them never to put their uniforms away, and that they would always be on duty, and that they live to show their fellow citizens that the price of freedom is never free.

That is the lesson today’s Veterans continue to teach us.

And in return, we will recall a second great figure from history, Gen. Matthew Ridgway, who on the night before the liberation of Europe during World War II couldn’t sleep, and instead listened for the promise that God made to Joshua:

“I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

On Veterans Day, we recognize those men and women whom we cannot fail nor forsake.

Robert L. Wilkie (@SecWilkie) is Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs and a Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserve.  He previously served as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel Readiness.

Original here


Trump speaks at the New York City Veterans Day parade


What Have I Got Myself Into?

Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Romans 4:3

The National Steps Challenge and other health campaigns have inspired many Singaporeans to start walking and running. One writer shares his personal experience with exercise—and the simple lesson he learns.

I must have been crazy to accept my friends’ invitation to join them for a run. I hadn’t jogged for years, and yet, here I was agreeing to a 5km run along the Geylang Park Connector.

To be honest, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it, but my friends kept persuading me that I needed the exercise. They also promised the joys of their fellowship—as well as the reward of a good dinner at the Old Airport Road Hawker Centre. “You’ll be compensated for the suffering,” they told me.

And so I agreed, telling myself that I could always take the easy way—just walk and let them run ahead of me. My friends encouraged me by saying that was okay, adding: It’s all about the heart.

As I said yes hesitantly, I couldn’t help but think of another old man who went on a longer journey than mine. Yet he never complained; in fact, he packed up everything he had to begin this journey, all on one single invitation with no questions asked (unlike me). Abraham was already 75 years old when God told him: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

I still find this story amazing. Abraham was a very wealthy person, and would likely have been very comfortable where he lived. It must not have been easy to leave his home to head for a faraway land, not even knowing how long the journey would take and what to expect along the way.

Yet Abraham obeyed the call to move. It was not recorded that he argued or found a way out; he simply went forth, trusting in God’s promise to make him a great nation (Genesis 12:2). This faith was credited to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3).

To me, this shows Abraham’s heart. Even though the move would have likely meant a long and difficult journey, and anxiety about the unknown, Abraham chose to trust in God. It’s all about the heart.

Eventually, my friends and I didn’t run all the way; we walked a lot. I think they were slowing down for my sake, but that being said, I was thankful for the beautiful evening, the refreshing breeze, the scenic views along the park connector, and the fellowship of their company.

And, of course, there was the reward of the giant meal we had at Old Airport Road Hawker Centre—Hokkien mee, satay, oyster omelette, grilled chicken wings, rojak, and cheng tng.

It was a feast that gave me great joy—not just because of what we ate, but also because of the friendship and fellowship I enjoyed. Which, I imagine, is something that Abraham must have felt when he journeyed with God, his friend. —Shawn Quah

 

Father, may I have a heart that seeks You each day, growing to trust in Your sovereignty and providence as I journey with You in life. Let all that I do and say glorify You in every way.

The Problem With Compromise

Psalm 119:1-8

Compromise may be helpful for relationships, but it can hurt our spiritual journey. Bending God’s principles is risky.

For example, suppose a Christian man makes some new acquaintances, who don’t share his beliefs. Having grown up in the church, he has practically memorized Proverbs 13:20—“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (NIV)—and recognizes the verse is meant to protect Christians from worldly influences. But he rationalizes that spending time here or there with these friends won’t hurt him, which is probably true. Eventually, however, he ends up spending more time with them than with believers and begins to question his beliefs. Heeding that proverb might have helped him avoid drifting away from the heavenly Father.

To navigate such situations, we must look ahead for possible danger. Even choices that seem trivial can have far-reaching consequences. But the Lord equips us with a conscience and the Holy Spirit, who sounds an alarm if we veer into dangerous territory.

For us to hear these warnings, our heart must be tuned into God’s Spirit and Word. Relying on our own understanding can lead to trouble. But those who trust the Lord and apply His principles will find straight paths through potentially dangerous situations (3:5-6).

The man in the above example knew God’s principles and felt the Spirit’s cautionary nudge but ignored it. Like him, we are better off following the Lord’s initial warning so we can steer clear of compromise.

Peace, Peace, There Is No Peace

“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)

This indictment by the prophet Jeremiah of the false prophets of his day could easily find a parallel today. The charge was repeated (8:11), so Jeremiah evidently considered it important. The prophet Ezekiel later leveled almost the same indictment against the false prophets of his time: “They have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace” (Ezekiel 13:10).

Almost every person would prefer to live in peace, of course. The word itself has become almost an ironic cliché. Our annual observance of Veterans Day (originally called Armistice Day) wistfully expresses the hope that when the current war is settled, it will be the final war, and thenceforth there will be “peace, peace.” The word “armistice” is from the Latin and means “arms standing still.”

But there is no real peace; there were numerous wars back during Babylonian times and Roman times and medieval times and all times! Even today there are dozens of small “wars and rumours of wars” going on in any given year (Matthew 24:6) and will continue to be so until Christ, the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), comes back to “speak peace unto the heathen” and to establish His kingdom of peace “even to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10).

In the meantime, James reminds us of our personal guilt: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1). And Paul exhorts: “Finally, brethren, . . . be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11). HMM

Ready to Fight or Die

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

—1 John 2:16-17

Someday the church can relax her guard, call her watchmen down from the wall and live in safety and peace; but not yet, not yet….

The healthiest man has enough lethal bacteria in him to kill him within twenty-four hours except for one thing—the amazing power of the human organism to resist bacterial attack. Every mortal body must fight its internal enemies day and night. Once it surrenders its hours are numbered. Quite literally it must fight or die….

The church lives in a hostile world. Within and around her are enemies that not only could destroy her, but are meant to and will unless she resists force with yet greater force. The Christian would collapse from sheer external pressure were there not within him a counterpressure sufficiently great to prevent it. The power of the Holy Spirit is, therefore, not optional but necessary. Without it the children of God simply cannot live the life of heaven on earth. The hindrances are too many and too effective.   TIC086-087

Thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit within me to wage this constant warfare for me. Give Your strength today. Amen.

 

Learned in whatsoever state I am

I have learned in whatsoever state I am therein to be content.—Philippians 4:11 (R. V.).

 

Forgive us, Lord, our little faith,

And help us all, from morn till e’en,

Still to believe that lot the best

Which is, not that which might have been.

George Zabriske Gray.

 

Thou givest within and without precisely what the soul needs for its advancement in a life of faith and self-renunciation. I have then only to receive this bread, and to accept, in the spirit of self-sacrifice, whatever Thou shalt ordain, of bitterness in my external circumstances, or within my heart. For whatever happens to me each day is my daily bread, provided I do not refuse to take it from Thy hand, and to feed upon it.

Francois De La Mothe Fénelon.

 

Judge that only necessary which God, in His eternal wisdom and love, proportions out unto us. And when thou comest hither, thou wilt come to thy rest; and as thou abidest here, thou wilt abide in thy soul’s true rest, and know the preciousness, of that lesson, and of whom thou art to learn it, even, in every state to be content.

Isaac Penington.

 

Lord’s Free Men

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Rom. 6:14

Sin will reign if it can: it cannot be satisfied with any place below the throne of the heart. We sometimes fear that it will conquer us, and then we cry unto the Lord, “Let not any iniquity have dominion over me. This is His comforting answer, “Sin shall not have dominion over you. It may assail you, and even wound you; but it shall never establish sovereignty over you.

If we were under the law, our sin would gather strength and hold us under its power; for it is the punishment of sin that a man comes under the power of sin. As we are under the covenant of grace, we are secured against departing from the living God by the sure declaration of the covenant. Grace is promised to us, by which we are restored from our wanderings, cleansed from our impurities, and set free from the chains of habit.

We might lie down in despair and be “content to serve the Egyptians” if we were still as slaves working for eternal life; but since we are the Lord’s free men, we take courage to fight with our corruptions and temptations, being assured that sin shall never bring us under its sway again. God Himself giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.