Duty, Honor & Country

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The motto of the premier military academy in the US (West Point) is instructive in times like these because it reminds us all about priorities and proper perspective. As men and women of faith we recognize individual and collective duty. Honor speakes directly to personal character and intergrity, a true sine qua non for exemplary service. But what do we make of country?? One social critic once described the deployment of patriotism in public speech as the last act of a scoundrel. But is this worn-out musing really true? Can one indeed be patriotic without compromising on his/her values?

I believe unequivocally that the US is the greatest country in the history of human civilization even with her historical and contemporary flaws. I have been blessed to travel to different countries and continents and I remain steadfast that this country is the best place for all people, including blacks of the African diaspora to call home. I am and will forever remain unapologetically bullish on America. Yet, despite my assessment, I'm concerned about the lack of passion of "love for country". I am deeply troubled by the apparent lack of interest shown in our secondary and post-secondary schools for young black men concerning the highest form of social duty, military service. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that war is now inevitable. The US cannot allow this unprovoked agression to go by without a measure and disproportionate attack.

But the question remains, who will go? Nearly 2/3 of the FAMU male students I spoke with indicated to me they have no interest in fighting for the eradication of terrorism. Most of the remaining 1/3 are only reluctantly interested in serving. This is not encouraging. But neither is the mood of righteous indigination. Are we upset because these tragic events occured in NY & DC or are we upset because they occured on American soil? The answer is not as immediately obvious as one may think. consider the following. What if the victims for instance were living and working around the Snake River near Idaho and Washington State? Or what if the senseless killings happened in Nome, Alaska? Would we have the same reaction? Both are on American soil, but they lack the high-profile image of NY or DC? Would the jingoistic reaction be as equally high? I have my doubts. We are terribly parochial in our assessment about what defines our "immediate interests". Many of us have never understood what the concept of a Republic or United States truly means. Our geographic myopia both domestically and abroad have rendered us ineffective in understanding how the world works. Dr. Martin Luther King once declared [paraphrasing] if a man is not willing to die for something [noble] he is unfit to live. Is defending the American way of life worth dying over? This is the 64K dollar question for the current generation. Will this generation meet the challenge like the men chronicled in Tom Browkaw's volumne The Greatest Generation or cede liberty and opportunity to religious intolerance and political extremists? Time will tell. QED

-- Anonymous, September 15, 2001


I hope it is alright to pop in here and say a fervent "amen!". I am not a member of your specific church, but am a Christian woman who is fortunate to be a member of the overall church..that of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, whatever earthly church they worship in. After reading all of the comments so far regarding the terrible tragedy this past Tuesday, I can only say "amen" and praise God for such wonderful folks. May we all continue to grow in grace so that we can be able to tell the good news to others in America. Psalm 121 is my favorite for finding strength in the Lord. God bless all of you!

-- Anonymous, September 15, 2001

Bill I do not know about those who have yet to enlist you bring up some very interesting thoughts to ponder. But I want to point out that for now perhaps we should focus on those who are being deployed now. Those who are already flying our skies and cruising our coasts. I know in the Pacific Northwest Conference We have two A.M.E clergy on call right now. Rev. Robert Payne, Union Betherl, great falls montana, and Rev. Beverly he is First A.M.E in Fairbanks, Alaska. All of our service people and families need our prayer. Also pray for the Chaplains who will have to counsel families as their loved ones are away. God protect them all!

-- Anonymous, September 15, 2001

Bill, AME to Duty, Honor and Country. God, Family, Country rings my bell also. Having served 20+ years and 28+ retired, they say I am too old but I'd go in a microsecond.

It does distress me that our young black folk are not as patriotic or can't see the benifits of military service. I was an engineering recruiter [Tuskege and NCA&T] for several years and hired many military academy graduates after they had completed the military commitment. Most of them were paid more than thier contempories who went directly into the civilian workplace. The exceptional management skills served them well.


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, September 15, 2001


I respect the opinions you and others have expressed, but I personally draw the line on this one. We are truly a nation blessed of God. While I dearly love my country and the rich blessings it affords, I have always been a conscientious objector to war or any form of retaliation. I even said so when I registered for the draft. This does not mean I have never wished to serve the county I dearly love in any way I could, just simply not in war. Thank God that in America, we also have to right to express differing opinions and to agreeably disagree.

My deep faith and allegiance to Christ causes me to take seriously His words in the Sermon on the Mount,

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. "

During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King returned home to find that his home, where his wife and small children were waiting and sleeping, had been bombed. That night the African American citizens were angry enough to hunt down and kill anyone in sight. Dr. King told them that as Christians we must be led by Christ's example. But, most of all he said, "A nation that practices an 'eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth' will soon become a blind and toothless people".

Jesus is the answer for every situation. "Not by might nor power but His Spirit", we shall overcome. Thus, being led by His will and His example, we will hasten the day when Jesus shall reign where'er the sun; the day when the kingdom of this world shall become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

-- Anonymous, September 16, 2001

Note: My last entry should have read Dr. King's home was fire bombed.

-- Anonymous, September 16, 2001

I agree, Robert. More bloodshed will not accomplish anything productive. This is truly a test for people who profess their connectiveness to G-d. We should rejoice when someone die and cry when they are born. Given this analogy--those lost in the bombing has connected to a better place. It is not our place as human beings to play G-d. The people who committed this violence act will suffer without any assistance from the US. If this is truly a great nation, then we must set an example as a CIVILIZED nation. We must not answer darkness with darkness...but with LIGHT.

The path to righteous is very narrow….

WWJD Brenda

-- Anonymous, September 17, 2001

Hi Bill,

I found your observations about your students to be most interesting. I would suspect that their attitude about defending the U.S. against terrorism is probably also representative of their white counterparts also. I am an ex-naval officer who would gladly volunteer some of my time to free up active duty personnel to do their jobs. My father is a retired marine who fought in the Korean War and he said that during the Persian Gulf War, he would volunteer his time at one of the marine bases " picking up paper" just to show support. Unfortunately, my generation and those folks born in the 1980's have been spoiled by all the comforts of a free society. We have been the beneficiary of our ancestors personal sacrifices. Furthermore, we don't appear to appreciate the sacrifice. It does not bode well for this country if this generation of people are unwilling to serve their country. By the way, tell them that if they are unwilling to serve the U.S. perhaps this attitude will result in them serving a totalitarian government at some point in the future.


-- Anonymous, September 17, 2001

Bill I salute your patriotism. As a African I want to say that even though the bombing took place in America, we are all watching developments nervously. What makes me and many Christians nervous is the fact that this declaration of"war" is being viewed as a religious "war" in our communities.Our communities are very intergrated in terms of muslim/christian.The nervousness is about relationships that are strained and the muslims are silent but a call up for 5000 men was made in a mosque just last week. I pray that action will be taken and the effects on the rest of the world will be carefully thought through. there was enough,more than enough death and distruction. These are my personal views .

-- Anonymous, September 27, 2001

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