Lincoln on the 4th of July and Declaration of Independence

lincoln19In the 1850s, Abraham Lincoln’s rhetoric was suffused with a profound sense of loss. He considered it shameful national backsliding that a new affirmative defense of slavery had arisen in the South. At the time of the Founding our nation had merely tolerated slavery; now, it was an institution actively celebrated in part of the country.

In a letter in 1855 despairing of ending slavery, Lincoln wrote to the Kentuckian George Robertson that “the fourth of July has not quite dwindled away; it is still a great day–/for burning fire-crackers/!!!”

At around this time, Lincoln fastened on the Declaration of Independence as “his political chart and inspiration,” in the words of his White House secretary John G. Nicolay.

He made it the guidepost by which the country could return to its lost ideals. His example shows the enduring vitality and the endless potential for renewal that is inherent in the Declaration.

Some good stuff here. See what you think.

Our Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, declaration_of_independence_630Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Read and reflect on it all. A country without God as its basis and foundation cannot be free.

This Day in Civil War History: The Battle of Gettysburg Ends

On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Confederate imagesGeneral Robert E. Lee‘s last attempt at breaking the Union line ends in disastrous failure, bringing the most decisive battle of the American Civil War to an end.

Read it all and read about Pickett’s charge, the battle that effectively ended the Gettysburg campaign.

This Day in Civil War History

Today marks the 153rd anniversary of the beginning of the battle of Gettysburg.

UnknownThe largest military conflict in North American history begins this day when Union and Confederate forces collide at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The epic battle lasted three days and resulted in a retreat to Virginia by Robert E. Lee‘s Army of Northern Virginia.

Read it all.

This Day in World War I History

iuJuly 1, 2016 marks the centenary of the battle of the Somme, which commenced this day in 1916. It’s hard to believe 100 years have passed since the Great War was fought! The British launched an offensive to break the stalemate on the western front (in France) and on the first day alone, they lost over 57,000 men, a testimony to the futility of offensive attacks in the midst of trench warfare. By the time the battle ended in November 1916, all sides lost about 1,500,000 men! Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

On a Personal Note

On this date in 2010 at First United Methodist Church in Van Wert, OH we debuted the anthem commissioned in my mother’s memory, Longing to Draw Near by Craig Courtney. My grandparents Maney were married on this date in 1917, my dad participated in D-Day on this date in 1944, I graduated from high school on this date in 1971, and my daughter Bridget graduated from high school on this date in 2008. June 6 has been a big day for the Maney family!

Remembering D-Day

Today, June 6th, marks the 72nd anniversary of the D-Day invasion, the greatest amphibious assault the world has ever known (and hopefully will ever know). Sadly, most of those valiant soldiers are now dead, and our country is the poorer because of it.

The Normandy invasion was a terrible and costly effort on the part of the Allies and must have been horrendous to those who had to face the deadly onslaught of the Nazi defenders. I would commend Stephen Ambrose’s book, D-Day, to anyone who is interested in this monumental battle. Ambrose was a wonderful storyteller, which all good historians are, and meticulous in his research. He weaves an absolutely riveting and terrifying tale of what the first troops landing in Normandy that day faced, and anyone with a semblance of imagination who can put himself in those soldiers’ shoes is sure to wonder if he could have faced that deadly fire with the courage and resoluteness that those soldiers did. I am simply awe-struck by it all.

John F. Maney at Normandy waiting to land.

John F. Maney at Normandy waiting to disembark.

I am also proud that my own father, John F. Maney, was part of that great and historic event. Fortunately, he did not have to hit the beaches until D+2 because it wasn’t until June 8th that our forces were able to establish a beachhead substantial enough to land a significant artillery presence, of which he was part. Like many of his generation, my dad is now dead, but one of my fondest memories is when we went back to Uffculme, England in 1984 to visit where he was stationed. We went into a pub to get some supper and find a place to sleep that night, and ultimately were led to a man who had been a “honey-dipper” while dad was stationed there, prior to D-Day. When Roy entered the pub that evening, he shook my dad’s hand and said to him, “Hello, young soldier.” He then welcomed dad back and thanked him for his service. It was as poignant a moment as I have ever experienced because my dad was no longer young and was no longer a solder; but he had been there, and he had been part of that monumental effort. I will always treasure it.

Thank you, young soldiers, for your bravery and determination in defeating an unspeakable evil that was Nazism. You paid a terrible price so that the rest of us can enjoy our freedom. I hope and pray we do not forget you or your generation, or the price freedom sometimes requires to persevere. Likewise, I pray we will not forget what it means to live responsibly in this democracy of ours so that we will not abuse the freedoms for which so many of you fought and died.

Who are your heroes from that generation? If they are still alive, take a moment today and thank them for being who they are.

Gen. Eisenhower’s D-Day Speech

From here:

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

— Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

CD: Veterans’ Unmarked Graves Get New Chance at Tombstones

Nice. And a great teacher, that LaRue.

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This year’s rule change, he said, “is going to help make sure a lot of veterans in neglected or unmarked graves get a chance to have their service recognized.”

The new change also means that work like that of retired Washington Court House history teacher Paul LaRue can continue. Beginning in 2001, his classes researched the unmarked graves of veterans. When the headstones were dilapidated, destroyed or missing, they would order new ones. In 2013, the rule change abruptly stopped his work. He was one of those to testify in support of Stivers’ request.

LaRue, 57, retired in 2014 but is still doing workshops to encourage history teachers to embrace historic preservation in the classroom.

“I’m amazed when I see students who have been out of school now for quite a while, and they still remember, ‘I helped with that headstone,’” he said. “We did this with a great sense of pride.”

Read it all.