What’s He Doing There? ~ Saturday Stories

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Saturday-Stories-Stained-GLassThe old stained glass window has graced Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Roanoke, Virginia since 1906. The first pastor, Rev. Lylburn Liggins had insisted that it be put there. There had been some opposition to a window honoring a white man in a black church, but the preacher held firm.

Rev. Liggins was a remarkable man. Born a slave, he had pulled himself up by his bootstraps and studied at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania to prepare for the ministry. He had been a bright student, earning some tuition money by Continue reading What’s He Doing There? ~ Saturday Stories

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The Runaway Governor ~ Saturday Stories

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Saturday-Stories-JeffersonThere is no doubt that he is an all-time American hero. An early President, the first Governor of his home state, contributing author of some of our founding documents. Yet some people in his time, like some historians today, considered that one event a blot on his character.

He was a patriot, all right. And well did the British General Cornwallis know it. In fact, he Continue reading The Runaway Governor ~ Saturday Stories

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Lawyer for the Defense – Saturday Stories

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Saturday-Stories-Boston-MassacreNo doubt you’ve heard of the Boston Massacre. By the title given to the event, you might imagine a huge bloodbath with hundreds of bodies littering the streets. Actually, five colonists were killed.

The confrontation came about because a gang of colonists were harassing a small group of British soldiers on guard duty. The Redcoats were hated in Boston as in many parts of the colonies because they represented the tyrannical grip that King George held on them. Some British soldiers had committed serious offenses, so the red uniform was looked upon with malice. Continue reading Lawyer for the Defense – Saturday Stories

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The First Prayer in Congress ~ Saturday Stories

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Saturday-Stories-PrayerWe often hear about “separation of church and state.” This ­­­­­­term has been twisted to mean just about the opposite of what Jefferson meant when he used it in a letter to the Danbury Baptists. By the way, it’s not in the Constitution.

Such a concept would have been very strange indeed to the Founding Fathers. Their devotion to the Christian faith is the reason that most federal buildings in Washington DC have Scripture passages etched into their stone walls.

America started out as a Christian nation and her Founders intended that it should remain so. The very first Continental Congress, opening on September 7, 1774 set a most interesting and encouraging precedent.

The delegates had just received the news that Boston Harbor had been closed by the British navy, bringing to a sudden stop its bustling trade. Further, Britain was rushing more and more soldiers to keep a lid on the increasing American resentment of King George’s rude treatment of the American colonies. These were not the actions of a benevolent king.

So it was that representatives from 12 of the 13 colonies met in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia on September 6 to form a Congress and to discuss what measures to take in the face of such grave threats of tyranny. Someone suggested that the meeting must be opened with prayer. Others said such a move was inappropriate because several denominations of Christians were represented, and none must feel slighted if the minister chosen to pray was of another sect.

Then Sam Adams stood. “I am no bigot,” he pronounced. “I can hear a prayer from any man who is also a patriot.” He suggested the Reverend Jacob Duche, of whom he had heard a good report. Reverend Duche was summoned.

Next morning, the minister faced the assembled delegates and read from Psalm 35: “Contend O LORD with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.” He finished the Psalm and then launched into extemporaneous prayer. His words were so eloquent that some members remarked that it would have been worth a hundred-mile ride to hear him. When he finished the entire company, many on their knees, joined in prayer. The whole exercise continued for over 3 hours.

That spirit of dependence on God continued throughout the War of Independence and the founding of America as a free nation. Only in recent years has there been any serious question that America was intended to be born and continue as a Christian nation. To this day, Congress opens each session with prayer.

 

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Walking Into a Mine Field ~ Saturday Stories

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Saturday-Stories-DelioThe little group of American soldiers had been successful. The bridge Rommel used to conduct operations in North Africa had been blown sky high, along with nearby buildings and a considerable amount of stored war material. But now the Germans all around were swarming like bees and the Americans had ninety miles to go to return to their launching point behind friendly lines.

They split up into small groups to make their escape. Their leader, Lieutenant Dan DeLeo took five men and started out toward the American lines. They hid out by day and traveled by night. Talking over possibilities, they decided to commandeer a vehicle on a nearby road and try to drive as far as possible toward safety.

Holding a pistol behind his back, DeLeo flagged down a covered truck. When the driver stopped to ask what was the matter, the soldier stuck a pistol in his face and took charge. The rest of the Americans piled into the back of the truck while DeLeo sat beside the driver and assured him that he was a dead man if he gave away his passengers’ presence. He found a white cloth on the seat which he wrapped around his head in the manner of the neighboring Arabs.

The ride was a harrowing one. More than once the GI’s rolled right through groups of hostile German or Italian soldiers. Finally, the old truck broke down on a muddy road, still fifty miles from friendly forces. There was nothing to do but walk.

Three weeks after destroying the bridge, the exhausted commandos reached a friendly French encampment. As they gratefully approached the sentries, the noticed that the Frenchmen were yelling at them frantically in French. Seeing no sign of an enemy soldier, the GI’s were mystified at what had so upset the Frenchmen. They were soon to find out.

Upon reaching the French defenses, they found an officer who spoke some English. After talking to his sentries, he informed the Americans that they had just walked through a minefield!

 

 

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He Was No Side Show ~ Saturday Stories

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Saturday-Stories-BullSitting Bull was a famous fighting Indian chief, a great leader of the Sioux nation.

But after many years of warring against the American government, Sitting Bull was finally compelled to yield to superior numbers and surrender. A few years after his people gave up the warpath, he was befriended by Buffalo Bill Cody. Cody had been an army scout and had done his share of fighting against the Indians. But he held no malice toward the red man, and wanted to see him treated with fairness by the government and his rights respected.

A born showman, Cody put together Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, a sort of circus that included mock battles between real Indians and Bluecoat soldiers, stage coach robberies, buffalo hunts and gunfights. Wish I could have been there.

Buffalo Bill prevailed upon the old chief Sitting Bull to be a part of this show, rightly figuring that the famous chief would be a huge attraction for the crowd of Eastern show-goers who delighted in seeing a real live piece of the Wild West. Bill and Bull often traveled together from city to city between shows.

Whenever the train pulled into another town to take on passengers, fuel or water, Cody and the chief would step out onto the platform, address the crowd and shake hands in an attempt to generate interest in their show. Sitting Bull was indeed a huge attraction. People nearly trampled each other to crowd close for a look at the famous fighter. They shouted out offers of large amounts of money for a lock of his hair.

The Chief had experienced enough threats to his scalp to have grown very attached to it, so he politely declined such offers. However, he graciously offered a button off his coat for $5.00. This was a considerable amount of money in those days, but there was no shortage of takers. The Chief sold every button at one stop. As the train pulled away, people who had been disappointed in not having obtained one of the prized souvenirs would gang around the successful buyers and offer them far more than the $5 they had spent for a button. But some miles down the line, another town and another crowd was waiting. These people would want souvenirs too, and they wouldn’t be disappointed.

Because old Chief Sitting Bull was still just as cagey as he had ever been on the warpath.

As the train pulled out of town, he reached into his pocket for several more buttons and began to patiently sew them on his coat for the next crowd.

 

 

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