4 JUL 09: Missing In Action
(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find the following item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)
Quick quiz time! Q: What do they call the Fourth of July in Australia?
A: The Fourth of July. It's the same day everywhere.
But of course, this day means much more in the U.S. It's Independence Day -- and there are many things you can do to mark the occasion. I plan to sleep in the morning, then worship at a church service in the afternoon. And a bit after sunset, I'll be free to go jogging - as long as police barricades don't block too much of the Riverwalk.
One appropriate place to cool off on a hot Independence Day might be the new National Infantry Museum. It tells much more than the story of the Army. There's also an area noting Columbus's connection with Fort Benning - such as the man who donated a large plantation for "Camp Benning" to begin. For some reason, the land deal involving red-cockaded woodpeckers was left out.
But the displays at the National Infantry Museum are not perfect. We went there last week, and found a picture about the Columbus USO. Trouble is, the chapter president's name is shown as "Robbie Watkins" - when it's really former TV and radio personality Robbie Watson. Imagine what people will do with Dee Armstrong's name in a couple of years....
Robbie Watson attended the museum's grand opening, but she didn't know her picture was inside until we e-mailed her about it. What did she think of the misspelling? She sent this response:
Well! Now that I know that I'm going to tell all my friends and family to look for Robbie Watkins! Cool! Thank you for keeping me informed, as always. You and I both know I've been called far worse than "Watkins"!
And we both know in times past, Watson might have sent us a much more militant comment. Isn't it amazing how working with soldiers has mellowed her?
But when we toured the National Infantry Museum, we were NOT looking for factual errors. We wanted to know if it mentioned one particular thing - something I'm told you can find at many memorials and museums in Washington. One museum even has it in the floor. But no, we're not talking about an appeal for donations.
A local family which recently toured Washington told me the Ten Commandments were built into the floor of one federal building. So that location honors God - even though atheists might be tempted to walk all over it.
You might say we went searching for God at the National Infantry Museum. But He wasn't in the centerpiece "100 Yards" walk, showing a history of infantry battles. It feels at one point like you're under fire, but there's no "pillar of fire."
The local section at the back of the museum has one panel mentioning how Columbus churches support Fort Benning. But that panel doesn't really mention God - so for all we know, the support may have stopped at Wednesday night potluck suppers.
The God Bless Fort Benning celebration is mentioned at the museum - but the emphasis is on music and soldier services, not God. It made me wonder how long the invocation lasts. But last year's schedule doesn't mention an invocation at all - so here's hoping the "Mount Zion Praise Team" did more than praise the durability of Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
It was only when I walked through some of the ground-floor galleries to several periods of war did I find some evidence of God. The World War II section includes what appears to be a small pocket New Testament. You can barely read the words "The Lord" on the cover. But there's nothing specifically saying it's a Bible - and the human eyeball next to it might distract you, anyway.
A couple of galleries admittedly were closed when I took this tour. But based on what I saw, it was disappointing - because it appears the National Infantry Museum practically forgot God. The stories of miraculous weather intervention on D-Day or bombs landing perfectly on Nazi targets will have to be displayed at Beacon Seminary's library.
The National Infantry Museum admittedly tries to focus on the stories of soldiers. But plenty of soldiers have prayed before heading off to battle, and plenty of family members have prayed for their safety. So why not mention their faith in God? After all, there's a quote in the Vietnam section about trusting unit commanders not to do anything stupid - and God's a lot smarter.
Psalm 24 in the Bible talks about a Lord who is "strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle." I'd rather have that than what people suggested in I Samuel 8. They wanted a king to "go out before us, and fight our battles." As if any U.S. President in the last 100 years actually has done that....
Today's Thunder on the Hooch event gets it right with the subtitle: "A God and Country Celebration." That's the proper order, because our country should NOT be bigger than God. If we start to think we are, we're asking for trouble. Which leads me to ask - does someone pray over the food at the Coney Island hot dog eating contest?
So enjoy this Independence Day - but don't overlook the God who helped provide us with independence. And if you really want to display an "independent spirit" this weekend, dare to mention how God provided it. Some people may thank you - but sadly, others might respond by giving you a burnt hamburger.
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