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.