I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch. Someone close to our family was not doing well, and I have spent a lot of my time praying for her and trying to help her. Unfortunately, she passed away the other day.
She lived to be very old. In fact, she had a relationship with some of my older relatives who died before I was born. To them, and to my little family and me, she was a beacon of strength.
I first met her as an infant and, after having spent my entire life getting to know and understand her; it made it all the harder to see her struggle toward her end. You could say our lives were fully and completely entwined.
I loved her so much, as did my husband. Together, we made sure that our two children got to know her; not on a superficial level, but intimately, for her purity of ideals, her sense of justice, her providential foundation. She was all about honor, integrity, ethics, self-reliance, and godly values.
There was something about her that attracted a dichotomy of people. There were those, like my family, who appreciated her attributes and respected her for them. But, sadly, there were many people who found ways to take advantage of her. The truth is, they saw her success and felt that they deserved part of it, even though they never contributed to it. Recently, as her vitality declined, it was nearly unbearable for my family and me to watch others disrespect her, mock her, and call her out-of-touch.
When some of her trusted advisors retired, the younger ones who took their place found ways to personally profit from her holdings. As a result, at her death, she no longer possessed the affluence she had known. It happens to so many of our elderly.
I am told that while she was carried in the womb, many waited excitedly and expectantly for her birth. Because her parents were prominent people who were willing to take a strong, unbending stand for self-reliance and freedom, there were those who wanted to make sure she was never born. However, individuals who supported her parents’ beliefs vowed to protect her at all costs. I’m told things escalated to a fight, and many were the families with empty chairs around their tables.
At her death, there were others besides my family who still treasured her values and her qualities, and, together, we gathered round her, hoping, until the last breath, that God would give her more time. But, that was not His will for her. There was a reverent hush in the room as her breathing slowed.
Using the last of her strength, she spoke her final words. “My children, the blood of patriots fills your veins. What would our Founding Fathers do now? Look to them in order to understand what they expect of you. The word “quit” was never in their vocabulary. Until your last breath, never stop trying to revive liberty.”
She rested her head on the pillow, and we listened to her breathing stop. Sounds of grief made their way through the gathering as each person who loved her deeply was forced to acknowledge her passing. I heard someone whisper, “I can’t believe it! Our country’s gone!”
“It’s hopeless, isn’t it?” another person asked in a voice that cracked with emotion.
Placing my hands on their shoulders, I turned my children, now adults, toward me and looked into their eyes. “God has always provided courage and strength to those who follow Him.”
Lifting the banner from the floor where it had fallen, my daughter looked around the room and asked, “Who is with me?”
As he helped his sister unfurl the precious fabric, my son answered, “I am.” Together, they struggled to lift the heavy flag of Liberty above their heads, but the weight was too much for two people.
“The men boiled their leather shoes for food at Valley Forge,” someone cried. “They would rather have starved than give up!” People in the room murmured their agreement.
A young mother holding a sleeping infant spoke next. “The officers, the signers of the Declaration, every one of them knew they faced a traitor’s death if they lost the war. They put their lives on the line for us!”
“How much is Liberty worth to you? What are you willing to give for it?” a middle-aged man called out.
My husband took my hand firmly in his. There were tears in his eyes as he looked into mine. “Our last breath.”
“Our last breath,” I answered.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6.
IN GOD, THERE ARE STILL SOME, WHO TRUST
Hell produces heroes. In the midst of a military battle, there are soldiers who fight and miraculously come out unscathed, warriors who are wounded, and those who die. There are also medics whose job it is to provide emergency medical care to a wounded soldier on the battlefied in the midst of battle.
While WW II raged in Europe, the new Pacific battlefront required more soldiers than were in uniform. Because most men 18 years or older were already in uniform, the Army went into American high schools and explained their critical need for enlistments. High school boys were told that if they enlisted now, they would be permitted to finish their high school education if they survived the war.
WW II was a time of desperation and patriotism. Male and female, young and old, all wanted to support their country’s war effort, and so it was that Louis Michaels, a high school senior, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1944.
Before he left home, his grandmother gave him a pocket-size Bible and told him to keep it with him until he returned home. She told him that its words would keep him safe.
During infantry training, Louie realized he had a high probability of dying if he remained a foot soldier, so he volunteered to become an Army medic. This would have been a safe choice had Louie been sent to Europe where the German Army respected medics and didn’t shoot them when they assisted the wounded in battle.
The Japanese, however, had a different perspective. Kill a medic and the wounded would most likely die, too, from lack of immediate care. Call it a “two-fer.”
Louie’s quest to find a safe assignment failed. He was put aboard a ship for the South Pacific, landing at Mindanao in the midst of a battle too brutal for words. It didn’t take him long to realize that the red cross on his helmet was a prominent target.
Battles are never casual. Men die left and right of you so fast your mind can’t even fathom it. Sometimes the young, good-looking kid kneeling next to you becomes a puddle of gore. It is suicide to move in such an assault. But that’s when soldiers most need the medic.
Louie told me of those battles, of the screams of the wounded calling for the medic, for him. And he knew that had he tried to get to the suffering men while enemy bullets pinned them all down, he would have been instantly killed. So he stayed put, remembering God’s promises in the small Bible in his breast pocket, the bag full of morphine slung over his shoulder useless as he endured the screams of the hurt and dying until it was safe for him to run to them.
Louie’s unit battled it out on numerous South Pacific islands. Along with many of his friends, he eventually succumbed to malaria. Only a handful, Louie among them, survived the deadly illness caused by drinking contaminated water.
Two weeks after Hiroshima was decimated by the atomic bomb, Louie and his unit were part of the first wave of American soldiers to arrive at the still smoldering, highly radioactive city.
Throughout my childhood, Louie told me stories of his war experiences, but he never told me the gut-wrenching, gruesome ones until he was dying. Although these final stories were shocking and difficult to hear, it wasn’t until then that I fully comprehended that I had, all along, been in the company of a hero.
Corporal Louis B. Michaels
We give thanks to You, Almighty God, for our brave men and women who selflessly put their lives on the line for ours.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012Read More
I want to thank everyone who read “True Americans” as well as those who re-posted the article on their Face Book accounts. Thank you also for asking others to read the article.
I humbly thank each person who took the time to contact me via telephone, email, blog comments, Face Book comments and private messages. To say I am overwhelmed by the number of readers and responses is an understatement.
I am not a Patriot like Colonel Kelly, George Washington or the multitudes of other Americans who have taken a stand for our country since the 1700′s.
But what I am is a Christian woman who was brought up to love our country deeply and passionately. I was taught the stories of what it really took to separate the Colonies from the Crown. I’ve read the letters describing the Civil War that were written by my g-g-g-uncle who served in the Union Army. I listened intently to my uncles and cousins and neighbors describe the battles they fought in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. None of it was pretty or easy. But someone needed to do it.
I also know that what a person deeply loves can be lost. Sometimes forever. And I won’t let my beloved country slip through the cracks without doing what I can do to help save it.
Some people, like Colonel Kelly and George Washington, can do a lot. Perhaps I can only do a little. Doing nothing cannot be an option. Even Young David knew he had a responsibility when he observed Goliath taunt the Israelite army!
So what can an average joe do?
Can you talk? Can you keyboard? In today’s world, that’s the equivalent of picking up your long rifle or musket!
Locate the name, address, phone number and email address of your U.S. senator by going to: www.senate.gov/. To get the same information for your U.S. representative, go to www.house.gov/. To obtain the contact information for your state representatives, simply Google the name of your state and representative (for example, “Virginia state representative”). Call or write. Do both. But do something. And do it with decorum and dignity.
Perhaps you would like to politely tell them how you want them to vote on upcoming issues. Or tell them in a mannerly way what you think of their voting record. Or whatever it is that you feel strongly about. Always be respectful. For you are a representative of Christ.
But above all, pray for our country. Pray daily without fail. God is Sovereign. He is the One in charge. George Washington knew this and He never started his day without talking to God. Nor did he ever undertake any situation without first seeking out the Lord.
You see, someday your children and grandchildren will ask you what you did during the difficulties our nation faced.
Will you look at the ground and tell them that you did nothing because you expected others to do something?
Or will your face glow with pride as you tell the little ones and young people how you did all that you reasonably could?
You choose the example that you set.
As for me, I have a legacy to continue. While I cannot take a long rifle and go to war, while I cannot stand in the face of musket balls and cannon balls and chop down a bridge, I can talk and I can write and I can encourage others to do the same. And I can pray daily to God and ask Him to be the Guide of our country.
What say ye?
I vow to thee, my country – all earthly things above –
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
Words: Cecil A. Spring-Rice
Music: Gustav T. Holst
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2011Read More
Sometimes I just don’t know what to do. Should I speak up or be quiet? Should I let someone else do the work or should I step forward?
Sometimes, if I am to be honest with you, I ascertain what the cost will be to myself if I engage in a particular activity. What is the risk? The price I will pay?
You see, the older I get, the less inclined I am to participate in challenging situations. It’s easier for me to be complacent.
My pride takes over and I justify my lack of involvement by believing that I’ve already done my part. Let someone else do the work, I think to myself.
I’m ashamed to admit it, but half the time it doesn’t even occur to me to pray about the situation.
Am I describing you, too? Oh, dear.
I’m reminded frequently of a man who didn’t think like this. My inclination to slink away from an issue would embarrass him.
He would not be proud of me. And knowing that I would dishonor him spurs my conscience into life.
John Kelly’s parents died when he was still a teenager. He could have thrown his hands up and claimed that he had gotten a bad deal, that someone owed him something. Heaven knows, we’ve all seen people do that.
In 1769, he took his inheritance and moved into the Pennsylvania wilderness where he purchased land and married Sarah Poak.
The property was heavily forested and with only hand tools and a steely determination, John gradually cleared enough land for him to farm.
John and Sarah were happy. They loved and worshipped the Lord, and He blessed them with a good marriage, healthy children and a prosperous farm.
One day, John heard rumblings from his neighbors. I can picture him, jaw clenched, listening to the reports of trouble. He kept quiet, though, and continued working his land.
The rumblings from the East got louder and John could no longer sit on the sidelines. You see, everything he knew and loved was at stake: his land, his country, his way of life. The stakes were high.
Either he took a personal stand or he risked losing all he had at the hands of other people.
John picked up his Pennsylvania long rifle and kissed Sarah and the little ones. Sarah held the baby in her arms as she and the children watched him walk away, not knowing if he would ever return to them. But knowing that he had to go.
John traveled to Philadelphia where he was a member of the Constitutional Convention. At the close of the convention, John joined the Revolutionary War Militia. He was a natural leader and was soon commissioned a Major. The Militia and the Continental Army spent a wretched winter at Valley Forge. The place where American men, freezing and starving, boiled shoe leather for food. John was there.
The fate of the new country lay in the hands of General George Washington, the Militia and the Continental Army. If they failed to defeat the British Army, every American’s hope of independence from England would be gone.
And the Militia and Continental officers? Hung. For treason. By the British Crown. Talk about pressure.
George Washington’s response? That is, his usual daily response, was to focus on Almighty God. Washington knew that God was the One in charge. That he served God and not himself or anyone else. Many people in the American Colonies at that time shared the same belief. A regular church-goer, John Kelly shared the same belief in God and His Sovereignty.
On Christmas Night, 1776, Major John Kelly climbed into one of the boats on the bank of the icy Delaware River with General Washington and the other soldiers.
Before they even crossed the treacherous river, a fierce winter storm pounded them with sleet and snow. Once across, the wet men marched all night in bitter temperatures to Trenton.
John fought at both battles at Trenton and distinguished himself during the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. Upon reaching Princeton, Washington and his men engaged in battle with a unit of British soldiers. The main British Army, led by General Cornwallis, was enroute to Princeton at the time.
Only a wooden bridge that crossed the flooded Stony Brook stood between Cornwallis’ men and the Americans. John and the men assigned to him were ordered to chop down that bridge.
If Cornwallis’ group crossed that bridge, Washington’s smaller army wouldn’t have had much, if any, of a chance. The entire American Revolution could have been finished right there at Princeton. And every man present knew it.
When the British fired bullets and cannon balls at the men on the bridge, John’s men ran away.
But John stayed. He had a responsibility. To George Washington. To the American military. To his fledgling country. To his family. To himself. To God.
While the British fired everything they had at the bridge, John stood alone on it with an axe. As he chopped the last timber on the bridge, a cannon ball landed near John and he fell into the swollen Stony Brook Creek. He was swept away by the swift, icy current.
Some of his men saw his body float downstream, but they could not go after him. The battle required that they stay and fight.
Besides, they knew that if the bullets and cannon fire hadn’t killed Major Kelly, the fast-moving freezing water certainly would. No one could survive that.
No one without a faith, that is. But by God’s grace, John not only survived, he managed to capture a British soldier on his way back to the Americans.
At the end of the Battle of Princeton, John Kelly was promoted to Colonel, and was asked to return to the central part of Pennsylvania to fight the British and Indian uprisings. This was where John’s farm was located.
Things were awful at home, John discovered. Friends and neighbors had been brutally massacred and those who had survived were living in utter terror. John put his wife and little children in a boat and sent them down the Susquehanna River to the safety of Philadelphia.
Some would argue that John had done enough, that it would be alright if he let someone else take over.
Who would speak badly of him if he chose to do no more?
But the job wasn’t finished. The Colonel wouldn’t quit. He stood his ground, even though the British and Indians sought to kill him, and fought to protect the area’s settlers. On those occasions when he and the Militia arrived too late, they buried the dead, many of them his friends.
It is said that John Kelly would never ask another to do what he himself could do.
When the Revolutionary War ended, Colonel John Kelly returned to his farm and resumed his life with Sarah and their children. He sat in Pew 33 of the Buffalo Crossroads Presbyterian Church, and served for many years as a magistrate in his county. When he died, the entire area knew they had lost a great man. A true American man.
I like to visit Colonel Kelly’s grave. I often take my daughter, Megan Kelly, and I am always acutely aware of the man I’m descended from and the legacy that continues in me and my children. My daughter understands the solemn responsibility of bearing his name. My son understands that he, too, has a responsibility to continue supporting the God-fearing country that the Colonel played a part in starting.
When I watch the news and see the shape our precious country is in, I wonder who will step to the plate to help our nation get out of this mess.
Should I sit here and say nothing? Do nothing? Should I call or email my representatives in Washington and my state legislators in Richmond and tell them what I think about their decisions? Or should I let someone else do that?
Someone else will do that, won’t they?
Perhaps I should talk with others and encourage them to be vocal, to use their rights as an American citizen to be heard. But I could offend someone. I could make myself look bad if I spoke out. Well, that didn’t seem to be a worry for Colonel Kelly or George Washington or their contemporaries.
Should I wait for someone else to speak?
Someone else will speak, right? I mean, the right people will come forward. Won’t they?
And God. Will God shine His face on our country again? Because, unlike in the Colonel’s time, I don’t see God’s importance and sovereignty being proclaimed. I don’t see our leaders praying and focusing on God first.
After God gave the promised land to the Israelites, they eventually turned their backs on Him. And their misery began.
God could do that here. Perhaps He’s already started.
Photograph of Col. John Kelly Historical Marker by Cynthia Howerter © 2011
If you think this article is worthy of being read by others, please ask people to read it. Pass this article around. Pass this article around our nation. May it stir every true American heart. In this time of great trouble in our nation, may we take back our wonderful country with the help of God our Father. And may we, like George Washington, always turn first to God in all we think, say and do.
Respectfully, Cynthia Howerter, Descendant of a True American Man
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2011Read More