A Tale of Contrasting Stories

In a Fox News article, Franklin Graham (Billy Graham’s son) writes about the faith of Louis Zamperini, the ‘Unbroken’ hero. This is a hugely important part of the story because among other things, Mr. Zamperini was eventually able to forgive his Japanese torturers.

iuReturning to life in California after World War II revealed what the Japanese couldn’t do to Louie Zamperini; they couldn’t break this hero. But Louie’s real battle was still ahead.

For a time he enjoyed the celebrity of heroism and hob-knobbing with Hollywood.  He met and married a beautiful woman named Cynthia Applewhite and life was good.  But when all the glitz and glamour faded and reality set in, reoccurring nightmares of war and memories of Louie’s torture by his enemies tormented him.

To escape these horrors, Louie turned to alcohol.  Pent-up anger overcame him.

His wife who genuinely loved him felt she had no choice but to divorce him.  The man who had endured horrific physical and mental abuse, and emerged unbroken from the ravages of war, had succumbed to an enemy that would not let go — himself.

Now compare this story to the story of another survivor of Japanese brutality during WWII, Betsy Heimke. Whereas Zamperini was able to eventually forgive his captors and be truly freed from their influence because of his ability to forgive, Ms. Heimke still remains a prisoner to her captors because she cannot forgive them and that is just heartbreaking.

image-1She watched her mother struggle daily to keep the family together and fed. People died around her. Her father’s ribs stuck out like steel bars.

No one should expect any Louie Zamperini-like absolution from her.

Zamperini was an American bombardier who was held as a POW and tortured by the Japanese after his plane went down in the Pacific. Part of his story, as told in the best-selling book “Unbroken” and now a movie that opened Christmas Day, is that after the war he traveled to Japan and forgave the guards who mistreated him.

When asked whether she could do the same, Heimke lifted her eyes from her scrapbook and locked onto those of her questioner.

image“He’s a better Christian than I am,” she said of Zamperini. “I’m not there and doubt I will ever be.”

 

 

 

Read Graham’s story and then read Betsy Heimke’s sad story.

Remember, Remember the 7th of December

Today is the 73rd anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that drew the United States into the great conflagration known as World War II. Ask anyone who was living that day and they can tell you exactly where they were. It was an act of treachery and it proved to be foolishly short-sighted and ultimately fatal for the Japanese militarists. It was that generation’s 9/11.

Sadly the generation of Pearl Harbor is rapidly fading away. But its lessons remain and remind us that we must constantly be on guard as a nation because there are those out there who hate us and want to destroy us and end our way of life.

From the History Channel:

At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.

Read it all.

President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thank you, Mr. President.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

Read the whole thing and give thanks for the country in which we live, warts and all.

Robert McKenzie: A First Thanksgiving Hoax

mayflower-compact-iiI first encountered William Bradford’s supposed First Thanksgiving Proclamation when my family and I enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the home of some dear friends from our church.  Knowing that I was a historian, the host pulled me aside before the meal to tell me that he had found the text of Governor Bradford’s proclamation calling for the First Thanksgiving, and that he planned to read it before asking the blessing.  Here is what he had found:

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

 William Bradford

Ye Governor of Ye Colony

Although I was uncomfortable contradicting my host, I felt compelled to tell him that this was a hoax.  Can you figure out why?

Read it all.

Fox: Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Pilgrims

Don’t be an ignoramus about Thanksgiving, pilgrim!

mayflowerWe usually think of the Pilgrims as British exiles who sailed to the North America and settled in Massachusetts. But the truth is a bit more complicated than that; the original Pilgrims were 35 members of the radical Puritan faction of the Church of England called the English Separatist Church, which illegally broke away from the rest of the Church in 1607. The group originally settled in the Netherlands, where the laws were much more lenient.

There, the Separatists suffered economic difficulties and feared the loss of their English language and culture. This inspired their voyage to the New World, a new home where they would be free to practice their religion and way of life.

In September of 1620, they joined a London stock company to finance their trip aboard the Mayflower, a three-masted merchant ship headed across the Atlantic. They intended to settle in an area near the Hudson River, part of the Virginia colony, but because of stormy seas, the Mayflower eventually anchored over two months later in what would soon be called Plymouth Harbor, in what is now Massachusetts.

Read it all.

151st Anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Today marks the 151st anniversary of Lincoln’s, Gettysburg address, one of the seminal speeches in American history. Take time to read and reflect on it today and give thanks that God has raised up leaders like President Lincoln to guide our country through difficult times.

LINCOLN’S GETTYSBURG ADDRESS

doc_036_big doc_036b_bigFour score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Burnt Magna Carta Read for First Time in 283 Years

From Fox News.

multispectral-magna-cartaMore than 280 years after it was damaged in a fire, one of the original copies of the Magna Carta is legible again.

Written in 1215, the Magna Carta required the king of England King John to cede absolute power. Today, the Magna Carta is seen as a first step toward constitutional law rather than the hereditary power of royalty. There were four copies of the document created at the time. One, held by the British Library, was badly damaged in a fire in 1731.

Now, researchers have used a technique called multispectral imaging to decipher the text of the “Burnt Magna Carta” without touching or further damaging the delicate parchment. This imaging allowed conservation scientists to take pictures of the document that virtually erase the damage and show details of the parchment and text.

“It was in such a terrible state, we couldn’t read any of it, really,” said Christina Duffy, a British Library imaging scientist. “It was actually quite a surprise that so much text was recovered.”

Read it all.

On VJ Day, New Generations Remember

From here in 2010:

We’ve long known that our World War II veterans were dying at an alarming rate. Some estimates put the figure at 1,000 a day. With them go important personal stories that will no longer be told, along with photo albums, scrapbooks and mementos. But as Sunday’s 65th anniversary of VJ Day approaches, I’m happy to report that for all the talk about the dwindling numbers of “the Greatest Generation,” there are new generations stepping up to keep their memory alive. Namely, the veterans’ children and grandchildren.

A heartwarming story. I am thankful and glad there are those who will not let the memories and lessons of WWII die on their watch. Read it all and remember those in that generation.

Remembering V-J Day

Today marks 69th anniversary of Victory Over Japan (V-J) Day and the end of World War II (the formal, unconditional surrender was not signed until September 1, 1945). vj-day pictStop and remember the brave men and women who fought against the evil of Nazism and Japanese militarism in the 1940s.

Remember too our brave soldiers today who are fighting against another form of evil and keep our soldiers in your prayers.

From the History Channel.

On this day in 1945, an official announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies is made public to the Japanese people.

Read it all.

Also read the text of President Truman’s radio message broadcast to the American people on September 1, 1945.

From here:

My fellow Americans, and the Supreme Allied Commander, General MacArthur, in Tokyo Bay:

The thoughts and hopes of all America–indeed of all the civilized world–are centered tonight on the battleship Missouri. There on that small piece of American soil anchored in Tokyo Harbor the Japanese have just officially laid down their arms. They have signed terms of unconditional surrender.

Four years ago, the thoughts and fears of the whole civilized world were centered on another piece of American soil–Pearl Harbor. The mighty threat to civilization which began there is now laid at rest. It was a long road to Tokyo–and a bloody one.

We shall not forget Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese militarists will not forget the U.S.S. Missouri.

The evil done by the Japanese war lords can never be repaired or forgotten. But their power to destroy and kill has been taken from them. Their armies and what is left of their Navy are now impotent.

Read it all as well.