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Jim Furr: A Memorial Day Message

By Remy Benoit

I am honored tonight with another guest.

Jim Furr is a Veteran and a graduate of West Point, 1968. Jim is a member of a brotherhood of men which has devoted 40 years now to watching over us in an astonishing array of capacities I could sit here all night just listing for you.

They have truly lived up to their Class Motto—No Task Too Great!

Tonight's message from Jim Furr is a very personal one, right from the heart:

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.

-Pr 14:34

Freedom is not free is the obvious message of Memorial Day. Over a million of our fellow citizens have paid the ultimate price to preserve freedom for us and win it for oppressed peoples across the world. In the words of President Harry Truman, “Our debt to these heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude.” We pause today to honor their sacrifice.

In addition, many of us will reflect this Memorial Day on the privilege, the blessing, really, that is ours to live in the USA. Where else in all the world have average folks enjoyed such opportunity?!
We might well ask, “What is the secret of America’s greatness?” I would argue that it has everything to do with the spiritual roots of our nation. Between 1740 and 1770, through the preaching of men like Jonathan Edwards a movement known as The Great Awakening swept across America, stimulating the moral and spiritual life of hundreds of thousands of colonialists. This "revival" produced a people of character, who in turn produced a document of character, the Constitution, called by England’s William Gladstone “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” "Righteousness exalts a nation."

In 1831, the brilliant French statesman Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in search of her greatness. After traveling throughout the U.S., he wrote, "Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secrets of her genius and power." "America is great, he concluded, “because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people."

Is it possible that America, this land on which God so lavishly "shed His grace," is ceasing to be good? I need not rehearse for you the sad statistics on divorce, violent crime, suicide, teen pregnancy, boardroom high jinks, pornography, drug and sexual abuse, alcoholism, addictive gambling, etc. Surely no thinking person would deny that we are witnessing the deterioration of our national character. And as de Tocqueville observed, our greatness follows our character.

Although a measure of greatness remains, we are, in my view, clinging to the lingering blessings of a 200-year history of embracing the Judeo-Christian ethic. Secularism, which holds traditional values in contempt, originally the purview of a few atheists and academic elites, began spreading quickly 40 years ago and is today the dominant worldview in the public sector. The result, predictably, has been cultural decline. As exceptional as the Constitution is, the character of the people is essential to its functioning. When “We the People of the United States,” lacking integrity, lose our “genius and power,” in de Tocqueville’s words, this marvelous experiment in freedom can no longer survive. "Sin is a disgrace to any nation.”

The present trend is not irreversible, but change must begin with you and me. The righteousness that exalts a nation is personal. A nation is righteous because its people are righteous. And the Bible says righteousness starts with God. I'm convinced that the best thing we can do for America, and the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen heroes, is to initiate a personal relationship with God through faith in his Son and then work in partnership with God to reclaim the fullness of our country’s greatness.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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