Marines.Together We Served

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Apple of God's Eye

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
27 February 2017
www.chuckroots.com

The Apple of God’s Eye

The despicableness of anti-Semitism raises its ugly head today in the news just as it has in days gone by. The fearfulness of this hatred is creeping back into societies around the world. Yes, even right here in America.

In the nightly news, we are being shown pictures of Jewish cemeteries around America being vandalized. Tombstones are toppled over by the score. Row upon row of granite markers lie in broken pieces where a loved one was laid to rest.

Add to this a rash of more than 30 bomb threats on Jewish Community Centers across our nation, and you have a real problem with anti-Semitism. Such hatred for Jews has occurred far too often throughout history. We, as Americans, would be foolish to believe that the Holocaust couldn’t happen again; and certainly not in America!

Have we forgotten about the death camps of 75 years ago in Auschwitz (Poland), Belzec (Poland), Bergen-Belsen (Germany), Buchenwald (Germany), Chelmno (Poland), Dachau (Germany), Dora-Mittelbau (Germany), Flossenburg (Germany), Gross-Rosen (Poland), Janowska (Ukraine), Kaiserwald (Latvia), Majdanek (Poland), Mauthausen (Austria), Natzweiler-Struthof (France), Neuengamme (Germany), Oranienburg (Germany), Plaszow (Poland), Ravensbruck (Germany), Sachsenhausen (Germany), Sobibor (Poland), Stutthof (Poland), Terezin (Czech Republic), Treblinka (Poland), and Westerbork (Netherlands)? And these are only the major camps where Jews were herded to their deaths like cattle in ovens, gas chambers, “scientific experimentations”, firing squads, and so forth. Whatever heinous ways the mind of depraved men could conger up was used against the Jews. And just for good measure, other societal misfits were thrown in, such as those with Downs Syndrome, the mentally retarded, Gypsies, and anyone else who did not fit the Nazi model of the Aryan Race.

Let’s be clear about some things if we’re going to understand the terms. The Aryan Race, as touted by Hitler’s Third Reich (a.k.a., Nazis), believed the Aryan Race was a pure race of Nordic people with predominantly blue eyes and blonde hair. In this, Hitler was mistaken, as in reality, the peoples who made up the Aryan Race lived in the region of India through Iran. To explain the distortion of meaning for Aryan would take too much time in this article. Suffice it to say, Hitler envisioned a “noble” race that would conquer and subdue (eliminate) all others.

What, then, does anti-Semitism mean? “Anti-Semitism is hostility, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews. A person who holds such positions is called an anti-Semite. Anti-Semitism is generally considered to be a form of racism.”

A Semite is someone from the people group or culture of Semitic peoples who speak or spoke Semitic languages (predominantly Jews and Arabs). The name Semite is derived from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah.

Here’s where things get dicey. If the God of the Bible is indeed the true God of the universe as we are assured in Scripture, then we clearly understand that God has had a very significant relationship with the Jews. There is great controversy as to whether that relationship is still in effect. I, for one, believe that it is. And as Corrie ten Boom’s father said in the movie, The Hiding Place, “They (the Nazis) have touched the apple of God’s eye (the Jews).” If the Jews are still a prime focus for God, and Christians are enfolded into God’s eternal family through the blood of Jesus Christ, then it is truly unwise for anyone to strike a blow against the Jewish people (Zechariah 2:8 says: “For whoever touches you touches the apple of God’s eye.”).

Now, for those of you who may think I’m theologically granting a free pass into heaven for the Jews, rest assured, Jews, too, must recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God and be willing to bow the knee to him. Jesus’ words are as true today as when he spoke them 2000 years ago, “No one comes to God the Father except through me.”

In my study of Scripture over the last 40 or more years I have yet to see where God has withdrawn his hand from the Jews in rejection. In fact, I believe the Bible tells us that in the period called the End Times, many Jews will have their spiritual eyes opened and see that God intended for them to embrace Jesus as their Savior along with the rest of the world.

President George Washington, in office little over a year, in August of 1790, visited the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, the oldest synagogue in America (It was my pleasure to have visited this place of worship in 1984). In returning to Philadelphia, Washington penned a letter of thanks. The letter “is small in size, but its impact on American life is immense. In 340 well-chosen words, the letter reassures those who had fled religious tyranny that life in their new nation would be different, that religious “toleration” would give way to religious liberty, and that the government would not interfere with individuals in matters of conscience and belief.” Quoting the Bible’s Old Testament, Washington writes, “Everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.” He continues, “For happily the Government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” (tourosynagogue.org)

In recent days, I have been greatly encouraged with the news from the Trump administration that the United States Embassy in Israel is to be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is a profound statement to the rest of the world that the United States is taking its partnership with Israel seriously again.

America! We must offer every protection for all Americans, and at this time in particular, the Jews. If we stand with them, I believe God will be pleased, and will continue to bless America.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Remember Iwo Jima?

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
20 February 2017
www.chuckroots.com

Remember Iwo Jima?

                It all started when I spoke to the family and friends of the JROTC unit at Riverbank High School last Thursday for their annual inspection. It always concludes with a pass-in-review, and a guest speaker. It has been my privilege to be the speaker the past two years.

          What I mean by “it all started” has to do with a portion of my talk which focused on the importance of 19 February 1945. I asked if anyone knew what this date represented. No one offered an answer. Well, all you have to do is ask any Marine and they’ll tell you it was the beginning of the invasion of the four-mile-long island known as Iwo Jima. During this five-week campaign some 6,800 Marines gave their lives so that allied forces would have an airfield to use in their attack on the Japanese mainland. It was also critical for our bombers to have a place to refuel, or land if they sustained damage from enemy anti-aircraft fire.

          As I concluded my remarks, I pointed to the cadets and told them, “Many of the young men who died on Iwo Jima were just your age – 17 and 18. They were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I could enjoy liberty and freedom.”

          My final remark was to point out that when you take the oath upon entering the military (or law enforcement, or political office) you “Swear to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” I added, “It says nothing about defending a political party or even a certain president. That is irrelevant. You are to defend the Constitution! Period! It is from that document that you are guaranteed your rights and liberties. In fact, you don’t have to like the president. I began my military service under Richard Nixon and ended under George W. Bush. Did I like all the presidents I served under? No! But I love the Constitution, and was willing to defend it with my life.”

          So, today, after church Isaura and I picked up out friends, Elwood and Patricia Cooper, and drove to the American Legion Post 632 in Stockton. The Stockton Marine Corps Club was hosting a “Battle of Iwo Jima Remembrance” for its club members and friends. The ceremony focused on three Marines who had fought on Iwo Jima. One of our own members, Gunnery Sergeant Ted Salisbury, aged 93, brought the house down with his various stories. One story was how upon becoming a Marine he took up smoking cigars and has smoked them ever since. He says his grandkids called him “Grandpa Stinky!” Upon his return to the States due to serious wounds on Iwo Jima, he called his girlfriend, Pat. Her father answered the phone, and realizing it was Ted, said, “Stay right there! We’re on our way.” Pat and her whole family piled into their car. They even picked up his dad and a brother, I believe. When they arrived, Ted shook hands with all the men, and kissed all the ladies, but someone was missing. Where was Pat, the one person he wanted to see above all? It turns out she was in the car crying, so happy was she for his safe return. When she emerged from the car, Ted proposed to her on the spot. He further regaled us with a story about V-J Day (Victory over Japan), 2 September 1945. The word went out that the war had ended, so being stationed in San Diego at the time, he and Pat, along with thousands of others, converged on the downtown in riotous celebration. One sailor foolishly grabbed Pat and planted a celebratory kiss on her lips. Ted grabbed the ill-advised swab-jockey and decked him with one punch. “That’s my wife you’re kissing!” he shouted at the fallen violator. They were married 66 years!

          One of the other veterans of Iwo Jima was Major Bill White. This Marine did not speak of his exploits, but the write-up in our program highlighting his years in the Marine Corps is fantastic. It would not mean much to those who are not Marines or who are unfamiliar with Marine Corps history, but Bill White has served in places that became part of Marine Corps legend and lore. He enlisted in the Marines in 1934 at age 19. After some sea duty, he was assigned to Pearl Harbor from 1936-37, and then transferred to the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai, China, in what would be known as the “China Marines.” These Marines were the first to actually witness the might of the Japanese military when they attacked Shanghai in the 2nd Sino-Japanese War. In 1942 he was assigned to parachute school and then transferred to the 4th Parachute Battalion in Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. He was later sent to Parker Ranch in Hawaii, prepping for the invasion of Iwo Jima. He served on Iwo with the 1st Battalion, 28th Marines where he was wounded and medically returned to the United States. He retired from the Corps in 1964. He is 101 years old.

          The final Marine honored today was our guest speaker, Corporal Frank Wright. Frank told of lying about his age to join the Marines in January of 1942. He was 16. Later that year, while serving on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Southern California, he volunteered to help in the formation of the 4th Marine Raider Battalion, the precursor of today’s Marine Recon. The commander for this fledgling Raider Battalion was Major James Roosevelt, the eldest son of then President and Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Frank participated in several invasions with the Raiders up until they were disbanded in 1944. He was then assigned to the 21st Marines. During the July 1944 battle for the re-occupation of the Island of Guam, he was bayoneted in the stomach in hand-to-hand combat. Recovering from his wound, he once again joined the 21st Marines, this time on Iwo Jima. Here he was wounded by machine gun fire. He ended his time in the Corps serving as a drill instructor and a weapons expert.

          I shook hands with each of these Marines, but lingered to chat with Corporal Frank Wright. Hearing I had been a Navy chaplain he began a story about a favorite chaplain of the 21st Marines on Guam. A recently commissioned ship, the USS President Polk, sailed into the harbor. This was something of a luxury ship, replete with a piano in the dining room. The Marines decided Father Paul Redmond, a Catholic chaplain, needed a piano. They stole the piano off the ship, paying a bribe here and there, with the piano ending up in the officer’s tent covered by burlap. On Sunday morning with Father Redmond leaning on the covered piano conducting a service, the MPs arrived, explaining that they had reason to believe the chaplain was leaning on a stolen piano. When the burlap was removed in a flourish, Father Redmond declared in mock horror, “Why, how did that get there?”

          It was a great day, and truly an honor to be around these three Marines who helped cement Admiral Chester Nimitz’s iconic remark about the bravery of the Marines at Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue!”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

For Such a Time

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
13 February 2017
www.chuckroots.com

For Such A Time

                Down through recorded history, the leaders we so often admire are the ones who lead their troops into battle. These leaders may be generals, princes, kings or any variety of similar titles. But one thing is certain: The leader is beloved by those who follow for one simple reason – the leader leads from the front. The leader is willing to face the slings and arrows along with his troops. The leader says, “Follow me!” Such leaders are warriors!

          One thing is certain when looking for leaders. From the President to the 100 members of the Senate to the 435 members of the House of Representatives to the nine Supreme Court Justices (currently eight), there are precious few among this cabal who are true leaders. Oh, they talk pretty, promising the moon with all their campaigning and fund-raising. It always comes across as so much empty talk.  

          For the past eight years, I have volunteered my time in serving the Republican Party in my area. I’m also a member of the Government Relations Committee of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce. This has allowed me to meet a number of our elected representatives and candidates for office, both Democrat and Republican. Most are very nice, willing to “press the flesh” and smile. But what I have attempted to stress, when the occasion presents itself, is to look them in the eye and say, “Do the right thing!”

          Americans love strong, no nonsense leaders who will face the fire, be it in combat, or in the Halls of Congress. I believe this is why Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina has become a hero to many because of his dogged determination in pursuing the truth about Benghazi and other shady and highly questionable shenanigans perpetrated on the American people. If our political leaders simply told the truth, folks might think better of them. Instead, the embarrassing numbers of trust in Congress, which has gone on for decades, hovers in the single digits.

          As I have written before, I was no fan of Mr. Trump until late in the game when he surprisingly became the Republican nominee for president. Several things took place in mid-summer which had a profound effect on me. First was the promises he was making to the American people as to what he was going to do to make America great again once elected. His often crude and brash manner notwithstanding, he was addressing boldly those issues that mattered most to we the people. It resonated across the fruited plain, particularly in “flyover country”.

          Second, (and this is what sold me on Trump,) he selected Senator Mike Pence of Indiana as his VP running mate. Pence is a Christian who lives his faith and isn’t embarrassed to say so. He is quoted to have said, “I’m a Christian, a Conservative, and a Republican – in that order.” So is Kellyanne Conway, serving now as Counselor to the President. She makes no bones about her faith in Jesus. The same can be said about Dr. Ben Carson, the new Director of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Another strong Christian advising Mr. Trump throughout the campaign was former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. The President’s chief of staff, Reine Preibus, is “known as a principled, devout Christian.”

          The recently embattled nominee for Attorney General, and now confirmed, Jeff Sessions, has served in his church in numerous positions of responsibility throughout his life. Betsy DeVos, the newly appointed Secretary of Education, says she sees education as “one of the ways that God advances his kingdom.” Our new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is considered to be a devout Christian who attends church weekly and teaches Bible study.

          And on it goes with Scott Pruitt who now runs the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency); Mike Pompeo, head of the CIA; and Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations.

          Where President Trump stands regarding any personal faith in Jesus, I’m not sure that anyone knows. But he has chosen these folks to be in his cabinet and to serve in his administration.

          Now here’s the exciting part! I reflect back on the life of Queen Esther in the Bible, a Jewess whom God used to save her people, the Jews. While in exile in Persia under the rule of Xerxes the Great, the Jews found themselves being targeted for extinction with the blessings of Xerxes himself. Esther was unsure of what to do until her uncle, Mordecai, conveyed these immortal words to her. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)

          The Bible records that Esther heroically approached King Xerxes who not only reversed his prior order to have the Jews wiped out, but that the Jews should be shown honor.

          For quite a number of years in America there has been a growing hostility toward Christians and Jews. With the advent of a president who claims no faith that we know of, he has clearly chosen many of his appointees who are ardently God-fearing Christians. President Trump has also said he will overturn the Johnson Amendment of 1954 which was used to muzzle pastors from speaking about political matters. Additionally, the President has chosen his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a Jew, to serve as his Senior Advisor. Mr. Trump is also having the American Embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is historic!

          Who knows but that God has allowed President Trump, a man of no particular religious faith, to be used to reinvigorate the godly heritage of our nation. And in so doing, God has strategically placed key men and women of faith who “have come to this royal position for such a time as this?”

          These next four years should be quite exhilarating! Is God about to do something really special? I, for one, certainly believe so!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Don't Count the Score at Halftime

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
6 February 2017
www.chuckroots.com

Don’t Count the Score at Halftime

                Well, after Sunday’s Super Bowl game I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put in my two cents worth. Wow! What a game!

          In an attempt at full disclosure, I freely admit that I love sports. In particular, football sits at the top. My step father played football in the early 1930s at the University of Alabama. He actually played with Bear Bryant! That’s during the era when the players wore leather helmets! Fortunately, I came along in the 50s and 60s when we had transitioned to hard-shell polycarbonate helmets which also sported a single crossbar as a facemask, but eventually expanded to provide more protection for the face along with a rubber mouthpiece.

          I would have loved to have been a star football player. Alas! Twas not to be. I was a perennial benchwarmer. But it wasn’t for lack of effort. I played in 9th grade at Highland Park Junior High in Dallas, Texas, a geographic region in the country where football is a religion! In 11th grade I played on the JV Team at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts. In one game I really got my bells rung! The good news is I laid a good lick on the quarterback, tackling him for a loss. After the pile of players moved off, I stood up, weaving from side to side. A couple of guys directed me toward the sidelines where I promptly walked into the head coach. He grabbed me and sat me down on the bench. I was still out of it even after the bus ride back to school. I played again in my sophomore year at Azusa Pacific College (now University). I also played for two of my four years in the Marine Corps. One year I played for the squadron team at VMFA 531 at MCAS El Toro, and the next year I played with a combined Navy/Marine team at Naval Station, Subic Bay in the Philippines. Later as a Navy chaplain I coached the MAG 39 Marine Team at Camp Pendleton, California for two years. All told, I had a blast in and around the game of football. I often thought the best job in the world would be as an NFL coach.

          Since I was born and raised in New England, and my step father was from the Boston area, we rooted for all the professional sports teams from Boston. The Red Sox, the Celtics, and of course the Boston Patriots (later renamed the New England Patriots). California has pretty much been home for me since 1965, so I’ve always rooted for a local team. I have been a San Francisco 49ers fan for the last 30 years. However, with Colin Kaepernick’s disrespectful behavior toward our flag this past season, I have taken a leave of absence from the Niners.

          Ah, but I have always followed the Patriots! And ever since Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady teamed up around the turn of the century, it has been an amazing run of victories culminating in what was their 5th Super Bowl victory on Sunday. The game was, dare I say, one for the ages! One of the monikers attributed to Tom Brady is “Tom Terrific”. This has been well earned because of his ability to will his team to win when things were just not going their way. This last Sunday’s Super Bowl was no exception.

          The young, fresh, upstart Atlanta Falcons had arrived at the Super Bowl having easily vanquished opponents with a frightening ease, bearing a confidence that was palatable. But this bunch had never been in a Super Bowl game before. In fact, only four players on the Falcons had ever played in the Big Game. On the other hand, the Patriots had 22 players who had been to the “Big Dance”. Two years ago they had won their fourth Super Bowl in a squeaker. Now they’re back for another try.

          The buildup to this clash between these two titans of the pigskin had the adversaries trading body blows, scoring somewhat at will, believing the team in possession of the ball in the final minutes of the game would win.

          Well, some of that prediction was realized. But no one could have foreseen this Hollywood movie ending. Both teams remained scoreless at the end of the first quarter, all the while testing each other for weaknesses. The second quarter was a disaster for the Patriots, and a boon for the Falcons. In uncharacteristic fashion, the Patriots committed not one, but several egregious errors which the Falcons pounced on, gaining what appeared to be an insurmountable lead of 21-3 at the end of the first half. The tree points the Patriots managed to get was at the very end of the half, appearing more cosmetic than surmounting any sort of scoring threat promised in the second half. The 21-3 halftime score was grim for New England. But this game was far from over!

          The start of the second half didn’t seem to go any better for the Patriots. Instead, the Falcons marched down the field, easily scoring a touchdown, boosting the score to 28-3. Any reasonable person would have said, “This game is over”. But I’ve watched Tom Brady too many years to ever count him out. The Patriots finally scored their first touchdown at the end of the third quarter, but missed the extra point kick. Score: 28-9. The fourth quarter was another story altogether. The Patriots, under Brady’s steady command, began a comeback that will be discussed, dissected and debated for years to come. The Falcons at this point still had an apparently insurmountable lead. But little mistakes crept into their nearly flawless game to that point. The Patriots made them pay with touchdowns, finally scoring the tying score with less than one minute left on the clock.

          Regulation play ended in a tie at 28 apiece. This was now the first ever overtime period in the 51-year history of the Super Bowl. After the coin toss, the Patriots elected to receive the ball. You could sense this was it. Tom Brady led his team down the field with a touchdown to end the game and secure a fifth Super Bowl victory and set all kinds of records on a career that is nothing short of amazing. The Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit, the most in Super Bowl history.

          Often during the years we were raising our daughters, when they seemed to drift from what we had taught them, I would say to my wife, “Don’t count the score at halftime”.

So, let me ask you, “What are you going through at this time?” Whatever it is, “Never give up!” Because it’s never over until God says it’s over.

Psalm for the Day