Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shape Up or Ship Out

Here’s another one from our cousin Donna in Austin. She sent us an email containing a letter from a 95 year old WWII sailor, Chief Boatswain's Mate Harold B. Estes, USN (Ret), written in November 2009, basically telling President Obama to shape up or ship out. Snopes and other “urban legend” sites have investigated and found Mr Estes to be a real person residing in Honolulu, Hawaii, who did indeed turn 95 years old this past December (2009). Mr Estes shares the same birthday as my late father, a Korean War veteran.

According to Rick Terwilliger, Mr Estes' longtime friend and publisher of Fore n' Aft Magazine, Mr Estes, who now suffers from poor eyesight, dictated and signed the original letter, then mailed it to the While House. He also distributed over fifty copies to various other VIPs, each bearing his signature. This is the first time Mr Estes has spoken out against a government official.

We did some additional investigation and found Mr Estes to be a highly respected and decorated veteran. The Surface Navy Association (SNA), Pearl Harbor chapter, holds an award ceremony and recognition luncheon annually in Hawaii. One of the featured honors given is the “Chief Boatswain's Mate Harold Estes Leadership Award”, which recognizes an officer who has demonstrated superior leadership while assigned to a Pearl Harbor based surface Navy ship.

According to some who knew Mr Estes, he is from Oklahoma, and joined the Navy during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He served in China, at Pearl Harbor, and on battleships in the Pacific. His name appears on the battleship Missouri that resides in Pearl Harbor as a permanent memorial. According to the Navsource Naval History website, a tribute ceremony for retired Chief Boatswain's Mate Harold B. Estes was held at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on November 17, 2004. More than 200 guests paid tribute to Mr Estes, who after retiring from the Navy in 1955, has received numerous awards from the Secretary of the Navy for public service and involvement in the Sea Services. Mr Estes is also known for helping to bring the Missouri (BB-63) and Bowfin (SS-287) to Pearl Harbor as floating museums.

Liberals claim that Mr Estes has attacked the president on the basis of “misquotes”. While it is true that Mr Estes doesn’t reproduce the entire content of Mr Obama’s carefully crafted speeches, or always use a word for word replica, we believe his quotes accurately portray Mr Obama’s attitude and intentions. We’ll examine the quotes with more detail in a separate post. The bold emphasis is ours.

November 20, 2009

Dear President Obama,

My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year. People meeting me for the first time don't believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert. I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring, as a Master Chief Bos'n Mate. Now I live in a "rest home" located on the western end of Pearl Harbor allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country. One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man. So here goes.

I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish. I can't figure out what country you are the president of. You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like:

"We're no longer a Christian nation"

"America is arrogant" - Your wife even announced to the world, "America is mean-spirited.” Please tell her to try preaching that nonsense to 23 generations of our war dead buried all over the globe who died for no other reason than to free a whole lot of strangers from tyranny and hopelessness.

I'd say shame on the both of you but I don't think you like America nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do for the obvious gifts this country has given you. To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.

After 9/11 you said, "America hasn't lived up to her ideals." Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British? Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War? I hope you didn't mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellas I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around because we stand for freedom. I don't think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination. You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.

Take a little advice from a very old geezer, young man. Shape up and start acting like an American. If you don't, I'll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue. You were elected to lead, not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their people like slaves.

And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don't want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts who was putting up a fight? You don't mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don't want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.

One more thing. I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life, but you're the Commander-in-Chief now, son. Do your job. When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him. But if you're not in this fight to win, then get out. The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you're thinking of.

You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president. You're not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy. That's not our greatest threat. Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now. And I sure as hell don't want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle.

Harold B. Estes

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Discernment, Cynicism and Childlike Faith

I began this post several weeks ago, but am just now returning to finish it. I was talking with a friend and co-worker around the first of December regarding Christmas music being played on the Christian radio stations. She is a relatively new Christian and was enjoying the exclusively Christmas format that begins every year on a particular station. We have a commercialized Contemporary Christian station here in Dallas whose format throughout the year, other than the music, is similar to the secular stations, complete with the overdosing on the self-promos. Even their Christmas music had a heavy rotation of Santa and generic holiday tunes. So, when she asked if I listen to this local station, I somewhat sarcastically replied, “only if I need a new car, insurance or whatever they’re advertising, or if I’m in the mood to listen to disc jockeys talking halfway through the songs”. She then made one of the most profound statements that I’ve heard in a while, “I guess I haven’t been a Christian long enough to become cynical yet!” I immediately replied that I wasn’t being cynical, just discerning.

Over the next few days, I kept thinking about this conversation, coming to the conclusion that she was right. I’ve been working on some articles regarding discernment when watching, listening to, or reading any Christian media short of the Holy Scriptures, and being overly sensitive to this subject, I crossed the line between discernment and cynicism with my comments. I also was reminded of two very good lessons that I’d like to pass along, actually three points, the first being that, as representatives of Christ, people are closely scrutinizing our words and actions.

The next point is that God’s truth is so overpowering, that it easily comes through despite the imperfection of the person or organization through which it is delivered. So while we should be discerning about methods, we should do so with gentleness and respect (1Pe 3:15, Jude 22). We should also rejoice that the Gospel is being advanced (Php 3:15-18), whether through imperfect radio stations or websites such as our own.

Finally, I am reminded that, after being a Christian for over forty years, how easy it is to get complacent and take God’s love and grace for granted. New Christians remind us of the childlike faith that we should always possess (Mk 10:15). A childlike faith allows us to trust in God’s Word without questions, but we often begin relying on our own abilities as we gain more knowledge. This is not to say that we should not grow in the faith. Refusing to grow is to have a childish faith, against which we are warned by the Apostle Paul (1Cor 13:11). By relying on God’s Word with a true childlike faith, we’ll continue to mature in the faith (1Cor 14:20, Heb 5:12-14).

If we follow these principles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we’ll never become complacent with the wonder of God. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lam 3:22-23 ESV).