My Heart on the Line
By Frank Schaeffer November 26, 2002
Before my son became a Marine, I never thought much about who was defending me. Now when I read of the war on terrorism or the coming conflict in Iraq, it cuts to my heart. When I see a picture of a member of our military who has been killed, I read his or her name very carefully. Sometimes I cry.
In 1999, when the barrel-chested Marine recruiter showed up in dress blues and bedazzled my son John, I did not stand in the way. John was headstrong, and he seemed to understand these stern, clean men with straight backs and flawless uniforms. I did not. I live on the Volvo-driving, higher education-worshiping North Shore of Boston. I write novels for a living. I have never served in the military.
It had been hard enough sending my two older children off to Georgetown and New York University. John's enlisting was unexpected, so deeply unsettling. I did not relish the prospect of answering the question "So where is John going to college?" from the parents who were itching to tell me all about how their son or daughter was going to Harvard. At the private high school John attended, no other students were going into the military.
"But aren't the Marines terribly Southern?" asked one perplexed mother while standing next to me at the brunch following graduation. "What a waste, he was such a good student," said another parent. One parent (a professor at a nearby and rather famous university) spoke up at a school meeting and suggested that the school should "carefully evaluate what went wrong."
When John graduated from three months of boot camp on Parris Island, 3,000 parents and friends were on the parade deck stands. We parents and our Marines not only were of many races but also were representative of many economic classes. Many were poor. Some arrived crammed in the backs of pickups, others by bus. John told me that a lot of parents could not afford the trip.
We in the audience were white and Native American. We were Hispanic, Arab and African American and Asian. We were former Marines wearing the scars of battle, or at least baseball caps emblazoned with battles' names. We were Southern whites from Nashville and skinheads from New Jersey, black kids from Cleveland wearing ghetto rags and white ex-cons with ham-hock forearms defaced by jailhouse tattoos. We would not have been mistaken for the educated and well-heeled parents gathered on the lawns of John's private school a half-year before.
After graduation one new Marine told John, "Before I was a Marine, if I had ever seen you on my block I would've probably killed you just because you were standing there." This was a serious statement from one of John's good friends, an African American ex-gang member from Detroit who, as John said, "would die for me now, just like I'd die for him."
My son has connected me to my country in a way that I was too selfish and insular to experience before. I feel closer to the waitress at our local diner than to some of my oldest friends. She has two sons in the Corps. They are facing the same dangers as my boy. When the guy who fixes my car asks me how John is doing, I know he means it. His younger brother is in the Navy.
Why were I and the other parents at my son's private school so surprised by his choice? During World War II, the sons and daughters of the most powerful and educated families did their bit. If the immorality of the Vietnam War was the only reason those lucky enough to go to college dodged the draft, why did we not encourage our children to volunteer for military service once that war was done?
Have we wealthy and educated Americans all become pacifists? Is the world a safe place? Or have we just gotten used to having somebody else defend us? What is the future of our democracy when the sons and daughters of the janitors at our elite universities are far more likely to be put in harm's way than are any of the students whose dorms their parents clean?
I feel shame because it took my son's joining the Marine Corps to make me take notice of who is defending me. I feel hope because perhaps my son is part of a future "greatest generation." As the storm clouds of war gather, at least I know that I can look the men and women in uniform in the eye. My son is one of them. He is the best I have to offer. He is my heart.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book, co-written with his son, Marine Cpl. John Schaeffer, is "Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps."
Dr. Benjamin Rush & Elias Boudinot
WallBuilders mission is "presenting America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious, and constitutional heritage." Two of our great heroes largely forgotten today include Dr. Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration, who John Adams considered as one of America's three most notable Founders) and Elias Boudinot (president of the Continental Congress and a framer of the Bill of Rights in the first federal Congress).
As an indication of the Christian connection between the two, we thought you might enjoy the content of a letter from Dr. Rush to Elisha Boudinot, brother of Elias. This inspiring letter offers Elisha condolences on the loss of his wife, Catharine. It contains what can be considered as nothing less than strong evangelical and Biblical language from Dr. Rush.
Elisha was active in the patriot cause and served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey. He was anti-slavery and also worked to help prepare men for the Gospel ministry. His wife was active in helping the poor and needy in their community.
The couple was so beloved by their neighbors that when their house burned, the neighbors not only turned out en masse to rebuild it but also established the city's first fire department to prevent similar future losses.
Founding Fathers such as Benjamin Rush and the Boudinots help reaffirm that America was built on strong religious and moral foundations by leaders of committed Biblical faith.
Meaning of Flag Draped Coffin
All Americans should be given this lesson. Those who think that Americais an arrogant nation should really reconsider that thought. Our founding fathers used GOD's word and teachings to establish our Great Nation and I think it's high time Americans get re-educated about this Nation's history.
I hope you take the time to read this ... To understand what the flag draped coffin really means ... Here is how to understand the flag that laid upon it and is surrendered to so many widows and widowers.
Do you know that at military funerals, the 21-gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?
Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the United States of America Flag 13 times? You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!
The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
The 2nd fold is a symbol of the belief in eternal life.
The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.
The 4th fold represents the weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.
The 5th fold is a tribute to the country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, 'Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.'
The 6th fold is for where people's hearts lie. It is with their heart that they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America , and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The 7th fold is a tribute to its Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that they protect their country and their flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of their republic.
The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.
The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of their country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding them of their nations motto, 'In God We Trust.'
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for them the rights, privileges and freedoms they enjoy today.
There are some traditions and ways of doing things that have deep meaning.
In the future, you'll see flags folded and now you will know why.
Peace Day and The Fallen ProjectAndy Moss and myself from Sand In Your Eye developed the idea of the Fallen Project together to mark Peace Day. The objective was to make a visual representation of 9000 people drawn in the sand which equates the number of Civilians, Germans Forces and Allies that died during the D-day landings, 6th June during WWII as an example of what happens in the absence of peace.
On the day we had 60-70 confirmed volunteers that had travelled from around the world to help. We knew that this was not enough to complete the project in the 4.5 hours that we had so at 3pm when we were about to begin we were overwhelmed by the hundreds of people that turned up to help. Myself and Andy then began to explain the task ahead and together did a demonstration on how to make a stencil in the sand. However, when we lifted the stencil I realized that we had just made together the first of the Fallen, a representation of a person that once lived, they had parents, family friends. This person had died prematurely due to a conflict and we were marking his passing. When I make a sculpture or a drawing in my imagination that person is for a moment very much there, I will often find myself talking to them to see what they are thinking and how they are feeling, there becomes a connection between me and them. The person that we had drawn was very present indeed, we had made a connection and I was for a moment overwhelmed and Andy Moss had to continue.
After that hundreds of people took stencils and rakes in hand and embarked on drawing the 9000. The Peace Day project had finally begun in earnest represented by the people of the world.
Of those people that were there were my mother, partner, & friends. This is poignant and when a person looses their life these are the people that are effected. What was profound were the people that turned up that I had never met. They believed in the same thing we believed in, a statement of Peace. Monika Kershaw was there
remembering her son and his colleagues that Died in Afganastan and even wrote in their names beside them. George, a veteran who was on the D-Day beaches was also there and embraced the importance of the project as demonstrating the result of conflict. There were a group from Israel that drew together, people from Germany, Finland and as far as Chili.
During the day I was running up and down the cliffs taking photographs. What I found is that in this region there are many relics and monuments to the war but it is always difficult to visualize what the actual human loss was. On Peace Day we quietly and harmoniously drew 9000 people in the sand so that people can understand the loss with their own eyes. This was a quiet day with a very loud statement. The message of the Fallen is now travelling the globe, those people that lost their lives are no longer with us but on Peace Day 21st September 2013 they spoke.
Thank you to all those people who helped give them their voice.
British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss accompanied by numerous volunteers, took to the beaches of Normandy with rakes and stencils in hand to etch 9,000 silhouettes representing fallen military into the sand. Titled The Fallen 9000, the piece is meant as a stark visual reminder of the Allied Military Forces who died during the D-Day beach landings at Arromanches onJune 6th, 1944 during WWII. The original team consisted of 60 volunteers, but as word spread nearly 500 additional local residents arrived to help with the temporary installation that lasted only a few hours before being washed away by the tide.
Battle Hymn of the Republic
A Memorial Day Salute by Travis Brasell
A Memorial Day Salute
Each year in the U.S. of A.
We have a Memorial Day;
Remembrance for all
Who answered the call
By placing their lives in harm's way.
This day should not pass with regret,
We owe an unpayable debt
To all the bravehearted,
Those valiant departed,
Whose sacrifice we'll not forget.
For freedom their lives served as shields,
Advancing in war's ravaged wealds
'Gainst tyranny's fist
They made the resist,
Triumphant on battle-torn fields.
In skies, upon seas or on land,
Whatever the point of command,
They stormed ev'ry hell
Where heroes' blood fell
'Til God gave them rest by his hand.
In shadows of Old Glory's wave
We cherish the mem'ries we save
Of those who stand tall
In Patriots' Hall --
By Freedom salute we The Brave!
By Travis Brasell