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Thanksgiving is not Turkey Day

The year was 1944. Americans were exhausted. The losses and the victories of wars on two sides of the planet were stretching us thin. That winter was the coldest in European history, and the hardest for the Allies. We lived in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

I had been sick and nearly died that summer. So as a treat Grandpa drove me to the turkey farm. 3lane rdThis photo even looks like Grandpa’s Ford.

I had never seen any road so grand. The White Horse Pike was three lanes wide made of broken, whitish concrete with grass growing liberally in all cracks and between lanes. Vehicles were with our troops in Europe or the Far East and common folk either walked, took a bus or rode a train everywhere. We were lucky. Grandpa had some extra gas coupons and during the war we rarely ever drove a car.  Americans just could not afford cars while a war was raging and we saw only a few cars on this road.

Grandpa, being a farm boy at heart, was there to pronounce doom on a turkey for dinner. Turkeys were a North Eastern staple based on pilgrim tradition. No steroid-stuffed mass-produced fowl like today. And Grandma made creamed white onions, sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pecans, dressing with celery and giblets, creamed fresh corn, stewed cranberries from nearby New Jersey bogs, plus pumpkin and mincemeat pies.

The rest of the year we had Spam and grated carrot salad, and once a week maybe a baked chicken. I got the leg. This meal was a real change of diet.

In our small town there were no working age men and very few young women. My parents were off doing war work, my mother taking the train home for an occasional weekend. Those were dark times.

But we were thankful. We could see the end of the war. Yahweh had spared us bombs on our homeland. We were a praying people and we knew Yahweh had made this possible. The first sign of sin, says Romans, is lack of gratitude. We are missing a lot of that today.

Romans 1:21 although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Now 75 years later we are digging out of another war – a war against the Constitution, against people of faith, against prosperity, against morality, against anything Yahweh ever said. This time we cannot be sure we will win. Most everyone has enough to eat, people have cars, TVs and rights, and sometimes free healthcare. But they lost the greatest things because their nest was so full of toys. They lost the ability to be thankful.

Thanksgiving weekend is not “turkey day,” or football game day, or get out at 3 a.m. to shop at the big box store day; it’s the day we notice that Yahweh made all this possible to hard workers, sincere pray-ers and moral believers. And to those who thank him.

Only two nations celebrate a day of giving Yahweh Thanks – Canada and the US. And if you’ll notice the statistics, these are two of the most prosperous nations on earth. I doubt if this is a coincidence.

No it can’t be. Yahweh hears real prayers from His people and when He does He responds with blessings.

This year, notice that each generation has its wars, its tests, its victories and failures. They come in different packages but they are all for our instruction. Let us be thankful.

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Why Soldier Suicide – Culture Clash

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As thousands of soldiers waited in New York City in 1943 for the troop transports for Europe they saw the rousingly popular musical Oklahoma! and got one last taste of American life, often to die on D Day the following June.

Those soldiers knew what they were dying for –“wind sweeping down the plain,” for carnivals, and romances and grandma’s apple pies at the state fair. They were dying so a nation enduring two theaters of war would survive, for little churches which preach God and country and faithfulness. They expected to come home – many did not. They had hope in their future and confidence that their service would preserve their homeland. They expected the girl they left behind to be there for them. And so did she.

That soldier no longer exists – but he still goes off to war, and he comes back – and kills himself? Why?

The answer is almost too easy. It is not simply because the family farm has been sold, the state fair is mostly auto shows, the church has been preaching diversity and his parents are divorced. That is bad enough in itself. But the man himself, just a boy really, has no roots in real America. His moral judgment has been tarnished by a wanton and indifferent culture, by teachers who praise marginal students, by gutless courses, and paper mache theologies. The man with roots in the real America is not there any more.

But he goes to Afghanistan and finds a culture that is supremely confident in itself… a male enemy and his religion that not only have open contempt for law and order, but also women and family, an “alpha” male society based on the scruffiest principles of overblown ego and violence. He has a new male model for himself. He is in awe of men who can kill a woman at will, or lock little girls in a school and then burn it down. Violence in the home is common, even applauded. This is power! In the clash of Muslim-American culture, he is co-opted and returns a totally different person.

The sweet little thing he married leaving two children to rear has been running her own show for a year or more. Her authoritarian ways, her final decisions, her paying the bills, discipline, repairing the car – what happened to his male headship – out the window! The romance of being an alpha Muslim male which he picked up in the violence drenched desert takes over. Bang – the kids are dead, or his wife, or in final frustration, he copies the Muslim model of worship of suicide. He is a trained killer, after all, and he kills himself hardly realizing that suicide is a public confession of failure. Like Hitler. He is a now one-more-sacrifice to a foreign god.

In the 1980s a revealing PSTD study of Vietnam Veterans and female rape victims showed their trauma and symptoms to be identical. The study put the two groups together in a successful therapy. The main trauma was betrayal- the woman betrayed by a trusted male and the soldier betrayed by a slothful government. Today’s soldier has no more trust in an appeasement-government than the soldier of the 60s. It is friendly political fire to disarm the soldier in the presence of live ammo and committed foreign foes.

The battered wife in Dayton, Ohio has a better chance of survival in a half-way house with her kids protected by agencies and police than guys in Fallujah once did. No one had their back! But if he takes on the coloring, the morals, the standards of the death-obsessed Muslim, he has a new identity and possibly survival. He regains a sense of self, however false and unworkable.

Attempting to correct this after he returns is a mammoth job when it could be more easily addressed before he ever goes. Despite the sincere efforts of the armed forces bureaucracy to bring “readjustment’” the results are minimal because the effort is at the end, not the beginning of the deterioration process. They must learn that their Western God is not dead – He’s not even sleeping.

This is not complicated. Train the warriors in American values, constitution and morals before they face the enemy as victims, not later. If young soldiers do not know who they are to begin with how can they be restored to a place that never was.

Solders need a moral foundation based on clear-cut historical reality so the man who fights in 2012 is as well prepared to face his enemies as the man of 1944.

Perhaps with a new President who values and encourages the armed forces things will change and soldier will again take pride in what they are doing and why.

{PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder.}

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