Summary: HIghlighting some outstanding Christian believers in the context of Memorial Day
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
American history is replete with heroes whose great personal qualities came from a deep well of a fine upbringing in which upstanding personal character, faith in God and in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and duty to others were deeply instilled.
Today, on the occasion of Memorial Day, I would like to introduce you to some of these outstanding citizens, many of whom who have gone on to enjoy that greater citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. Let’s now get acquainted with them as we explore amazing things in memoriam.
Going back to the time of the American War of Independence, let’s consider a person that probably no one here is familiar with. This man; Revolutionary War veteran, Lemuel Haynes lived for some 80 years in New England. Here is his amazing story.
One of the Minutemen of the battle of Lexington was Lemuel Haynes. His story is a jewel of God’s redemption of difficult situations. He was born out of wedlock to a black father and the daughter of a prominent white family in Hartford. When little Lemuel was 5 months of age, his parents abandoned him and he was indentured to a white family in Massachusetts. After he gained his freedom by fulfilling the terms of his indentured service, Lemuel studied Latin, Greek and Theology in his 20s, under the tutelage area pastors. He then became licensed to preach in 1780. In 1783, he became the pastor of West Parish Congregation; the first black pastor in America to serve a white church. He fell in love with and married a young white woman in his Connecticut church family, and together they raised ten children. In 1785 he received full ordination. He went on to receive an honorary Master’s degree from Middlebury College, and then served at three more churches before his death at age 80. His tenure in Rutland Vermont lasted for 30 years.
Postscript: The highly disciplined, courageous and hard working Haynes is today a member of the White House heroes of Freedom. After his death, a treatise he authored back in 1776 was discovered, in which he roundly condemned slavery as sin, and declared the hypocrisy of any man fighting for his own freedom, while enslaving others.
THOMAS JONATHAN “STONEWALL” JACKSON
Now let’s consider a Confederate Civil War figure who is today a member of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson was a military genius. At age 18, in 1842, he secured an appointment to West Point. After graduating, he served with distinction in the Mexican-American war. He then taught at the Virginia Military Institute for the next 10 years until the Civil War broke out. He was opposed to succeeding from the Union, but remained loyal to Virginia when was came. After his first battle in that conflict, Manassas Junction, he was dubbed Stonewall for his stubborn refusal to retreat when the battle was hot.
General Jackson is especially remembered for his Christian Witness and influence. Early in his military career, he converted to being a follower of Jesus and built a large Sunday School, especially for slaves from plantations near the Virginia Military Institute. Throughout his career, and especially during the war, he promoted worship, prayer, and the study of Scripture among his troops.
This highly respected General would even share the Gospel around the campfires at night during the war. Jackson was elected to the Hall of Fame of Great Americans in 1955.
This amazing woman was called the “Angel of the Battlefield” by the Union Troops in the Civil War. From the very beginning of the war she organized the efforts to medically care for the wounded, and to get their needs for food, transportation, and pensions met. She routinely braved artillery and rifle fire to tend to the wounded in battle. Her fame among the soldiers was so great that many of them went home, had daughters, and named the girls Clara in her honor.
Prior to the war she had been a schoolteacher from 1842 till 1852, in her native Oxford, Massachusetts. After that time, she had started a school in New Jersey where they had no free schools. Teaching the first six months for no pay, she saw the new school grow from seven children to over 200 in the space of that one school year. After three years, the town built a new schoolhouse to house the burgeoning population of students. At this time, 1855, Clara moved to Washington DC and worked in the US Patent office until the war broke out.
As the Civil war was winding down, President Lincoln asked Clara to head up and to coordinate the national effort to find out what had happened to the staggering 69,000 men who were missing in action. Miss Barton spent the next four years tirelessly doing this very difficult task. She traveled the nation and declared that she would rather be back in battle than standing before these packed town halls doing this grim search.