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Insurrectionists assault people: True patriots give themselves in humility

FROM THE EDITOR – Mark Wingfield – -July 30, 2021
On Christmas Eve 1944, Carl McKeever, age 19, found himself crossing the English Channel aboard the HMS Cheshire, a British cruise ship that had been repurposed as a troop transport ship to help with the war effort. The Cheshire steamed alongside a larger ship, the SS Leopoldville, escorted by a flank of four destroyers. Just 5 miles offshore from Cherbourg, France, the SS Leopoldville was torpedoed by a German U-boat.

On that afternoon, 762 soldiers and officers were lost, despite rescue efforts by those on the Cheshire and the accompanying destroyers. Other ships in Cherbourg harbor were not able to come to the rescue quickly because their crews were ashore celebrating the holiday. This was the beginning of my friend’s overseas military service in World War II, and it no doubt shaped the rest of his life.

According to some accounts, Carl and the other soldiers of the 66th Infantry Division were ordered not to tell anyone about the sinking of the ship, and their letters home were censored by the Army during the rest of World War II. After the war, the soldiers reportedly were ordered not to talk about the sinking of the SS Leopoldville or their GI benefits as civilians would be canceled.

Carl abided by that policy for more than 60 years, never speaking much of his military service even to family until just a couple of years before his death, when the grandchildren began digging and asking insistent questions. And then his son, Dan, convinced Carl to participate in an Honor Flight, which took them to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial and other sites.

Just a couple of weeks before his death, I stood in Carl’s hospital room and listened to him tell with pride the story of that Honor Flight. He talked about how moving the World War II Memorial was, how he thought it was the most spectacular of all the war memorials on the National Mall. But the thing that most impressed him at age 90 was the people who lined the walkways to cheer for him and the other veterans on the Honor Flight as they came and went. He was moved to know that people remembered, that people cared, that people were grateful.

At the Memorial, on the 84-foot-wide Freedom Wall, Carl saw the beautiful field of 4,000 sculpted gold stars that represent the 400,000 Americans who gave their lives in the war. In front of this wall are engraved these words: “HERE WE MARK THE PRICE OF FREEDOM.”

Dan had to do some fast talking to get Carl to agree to go on the Honor Flight. Carl was concerned that he was not important enough to receive such an honor. After all, he had been only a private first class in rank. Surely there were more worthy people than he to be honored.

The Honor Flight staff assured Carl that he was, in fact, worthy of recognition because the war had been won by the efforts of men and women of all ranks. It was on the backs of PFCs like him that the 66th Division Panthers guarded the German submarine base pockets that were left after the D-Day invasion and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. And it was PFCs like Carl who kept the peace after the war in Germany and Austria.

Carl’s been gone from us four years now, and just two weeks ago I presided over the burial of his beloved wife, Velma. But I thought about Carl’s story this week as I listened to the heart-wrenching testimony of the four officers who served — and were attacked by insurrectionists — at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

One of the most disgusting things to hear in this testimony — and there were plenty of unbelievable disgraces these police officers endured — was how the foul-mouthed, racist and unhinged insurrectionists called themselves both “patriots” and “Christians.”

To be clear: They were neither.

There is nothing patriotic or Christian about participating in a violent insurrection against the seat of our democracy in an attempt to overturn a presidential election, kidnap or kill members of Congress and the vice president of the United States — all while hurling racial slurs at the non-white police doing their true patriotic duty.

To compare the fools who stormed the U.S. Capitol to true patriots like my friend Carl McKeever, who served his country on a true battlefield, is to besmirch the very word “patriot.”

Our columnist Michael Chancellor spelled this out in clear terms with his column this week. I urge you to read his piece, “If You Really Respect Law Enforcement, Don’t Obstruct, Obfuscate, Object and Misdirect on Jan. 6.”

True patriots like my friend Carl give themselves in humility because they love country more than self. Insurrectionists seek to elevate themselves and their cause out of self-interest and self-protection.

True Christians like my friend Carl seek to serve and protect those who are not like themselves but who are beloved children of God. They fight against any who would exclude or humiliate others based on skin color or nationality or gender or religion. Insurrectionists assault people who are not like them and only want power for themselves.

There are not “good people” on both sides of this question. There are true patriots, and there are violent insurrectionists. There are Christ-like Christians, and there are white Christian nationalists. We’ve got to be clear in pointing out the difference.


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“Jesus Is Truth,” Thomas Tells Chautauqua Audience – Mary Lee Talbot

Chautauqua Daily – July 30, 2021

“My mentor, Michael Charles Leff, said people are looking for a universal definition of the
truth. People want truth to be true at all times, in all places. Truth should be solid, faithful in all cases,” said the Rev. Frank A. Thomas. “In-stead, what we live is preferred truth.”

Thomas preached at the 9 a.m. Thursday worship service in the Amphitheater. His sermon title was “What is Truth?” The Scripture reading was John 18:33-38a.
Truth, as described by Leff, lives at the macro level. Thomas told the congregation, “We have the audacity to live our preferred truth at our specific, personal level. What
is our personal truth? It is living in a way that is different from universal truth; it is the truth we speak.”
The founding documents of the United States say that “all men are created equal,” but the nation has lived a preferred truth — that not everyone is equal, Thomas said.

Thomas told the story of Jesus’ arrest and his trials before Annas, Caiaphas and Pilate. Pilate wanted the Jewish leaders to try Jesus by their own law, but they reminded him that they did not have the power to execute Jesus. When Pilate asked Jesus directly, “Are you the King of
the Jews?” Jesus asked him, “Is this your own idea or did others tell you this?” Jesus asserted that his kingdom wasnot of this world, and Pilate replied, “So you are a king.”
“You have said it,” answered Jesus. Jesus said the reason he came into the world was to
testify to the truth. Pilate then asked his famous question: “What is truth?” Pilate could find no fault in Jesus, and wanted to let him go — but the community leaders would
not allow him to do so. Thomas asked the congregation, “What holds everything
together? What can you bet your life on? What gives you hope for your whole life?” This is the question of a baby crying for its bottle, young people feeling the power of a first kiss, a single person looking for a life partner, people facing infertility, cancer and death, he said.
In these situations, Thomas said, people do not speak ex cathedra, from the chair of truth, but from their preferred truth.

“This is a dangerous thing to say in a post-truth era. What we live is our preferred truth; what we speak is aspirational,” Thomas said. He illustrated this idea with the book How to Slowly Kill
Yourself and Others in America, a collection of essays by Kiese Laymon. One night, Laymon was having dinner with a friend who told him that he was the kind of person he claimed to
despise. The friend spoke the truth to Laymon — that he mangled the possibility of radical friendship with others. Laymon defended himself to his friend. However, when Laymon got home, he realized for the first time that he had been slowly killing himself and others close to him — by killing the love he was offered, and killing his body with his lifestyle. “He was living his preferred truth when his family was
screaming that he was running into disaster,” Thomas said. “We are all more like the people we despise than we would like to admit.” He told the congregation, “We use the lens of preferred
truth, and if we accept it, then we block the truth. If we believe that white skin and culture is more valuable than Black skin and culture, we block the truth. We say that Black people liked slavery and block the truth. We say that we Christianized Black people and block the truth. We made up the boogeyman of critical race theory and blocked the truth. We blot out the truth.” Thomas said that someone he loved broke his heart, because she kept trying to tell him the truth but he
could not hear. “She had to scream in pain,” he said. “She was saying my behavior was killing her. While I was preaching the love and mercy of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone,
my lifestyle was killing her.” He continued, “There is universal truth, but we live our
preferred truth in our behavior. It is only when we face our fear that we come upon the true truth. I had been killing people that I loved with my lifestyle. If I can’t face that
truth, how will I face Pilate’s question?” Thomas searched in many places to find truth: as a
philosophy major, a scholar of Afrocentric life, in seminary, in the church, in counseling. “I could find degrees of truth, but not rest for my soul.” As a child, Thomas lived in a neighborhood that was
experiencing white flight. An elderly woman, Mrs. Earl, did not leave the neighborhood, but taught Sunday school to the Black children. “The church had a gym, and in order to play basketball,
you had to go to Sunday school,” Thomas said, “She gave me my first Bible, and she said, ‘Truth is a person and his name is Jesus.’ Truth is a person and his name is Jesus.
Jesus is truth, not preferred truth.” Thomas continued, “She gave me the ability to face the
truths I was running from. Like Pilate, I examined Jesus thoroughly, and I have lived with him for almost 50 years. I find no fault in Jesus. Amen.”

The Rev. Paul Womack presided. The Rev. Steven Sim mons, a retired teacher of preaching and homiletics at the Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, read the Scripture. The prelude was “Alla breve,” from Trio Sonatain C, by Johann Joachim Quantz, performed by the Motet
Consort: Barbara Hois, flute; Debbie Grohman, clarinet; and Willie La Favor, piano. Members of the Motet Choir sang “Come My Way,” with music by Harold Friedell and words by George Herbert. Joshua Stafford, who holds the Jared Jacob sen Chair for the Organist and is director of sacred music, played an improvisation for the postlude. The Geraldine M. and Frank E. McElree Jr. Chaplaincy Fund and the John William Tyrrell Endowment for Religion provide support for this week’s services and chap

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Cheers for My Daughter. Manager of the Year, Nashville – Large Hotels

Nomination letter from her boss: Matthew Lahiff

I would like to take this time to nominate Suzanne Smith, Human Resources Director of the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs, for manager of the year for a large hotel.

Although it is difficult to single out one individual over the course of the last unprecedented year, I would like to personally recognize Suzanne for her outstanding efforts.

Over the last year like so many others, we went down to a bare minimum staffing just to keep the doors open for our guests. What was asked of her and how she responded was gracious and positive to say the least.

Suzanne had the heartbreaking duty of explaining to 110 employees the process of being laid off. She spent time with anyone that needed help or guidance traversing the unemployment system to make sure they were able to collect these crucial benefits. More importantly she was also a shoulder to lean on and a sounding board to hear our employees worries throughout this pandemic.

It certainly did not end there. For the first several months Suzanne was side by side with other managers cleaning public spaces, making beds, cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry or whatever else needed to be done to get through the day operationally.

Suzanne also had to learn our property management systems on the fly. She became the pseudo front office manager making sure we had coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She was not above working any shift to help get us through.

The team work and selfless dedication displayed by Suzanne was exceptional!

Now that we have started to make it through the tough times. The work doesn’t end there. Now Suzanne has to change her cape and figure out a way to bring employees back. As everyone knows, this is easier said than done. Once we bring them back, there is all of the “new” training that needs to be administered. The new on boarding and acculturation that needs to take place. The job fairs that needed to be attended to. The explanation of benefits and so on and so on.  Suzanne has done a 180 degree turn to make sure we do not skip a beat getting back to some normalcy.

Lastly, Suzanne’s teamwork and generosity does not stop at the hotel doors. She has been an integral part of helping out charities over the years. Whether it is Give kids the World or supporting local food banks and shelters, she is always ready to give a helping hand. Most notably is her work with Hope Lodge where she has donated countless hours and goods to support this wonderful effort.

We all know that our world has a new normal and I look forward to exploring it with Suzanne. We are fortunate to have her on our team and her loyalty means everything.


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365 Days of Grief and Love by Vickie Guerry

Tom Guerry and Mitch Carnell at French Huguenot ChurchTom Guerry was a close friend. He was one of the three ministers who took part in marrying Carol and me. He was a vital part of the Monday Lunch Bunch until he could not be. Vickie, Tom’s wife, is a very good friend. We worked together for more than 20 years. I have known, Ben, their son since before he was born.

All this to tell you that I am not impartial. These are my friends, but that did not keep me from telling everyone that Vickie has written an honest, helpful book. This is my review on The picture is of Tom and me at the French Huguenot Church.

A Friend for the Journey

My wonderful wife has been gone almost three years now and yet I find Vickie Guerry’s book to be honest, painful and helpful. So many writers are timid about laying out the truth of a senseless journey that no one should have to travel. Guerry chronicles each of the first 365 days of the grief she experienced at losing her husband. You can feel her anguish rise from the pages, but you also feel the deep love that these two shared.  Although writing the book is her way of coping with her loss, she does it in such a way that is helpful. There are no solutions here, but with this book you have a friend who walks the journey with you.