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Little Rock’s High School Integration – 60 Years Ago Today

On this day in history, 1957, under escort by the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, nine black students entered all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Three weeks earlier, Governor Orval Faubus had surrounded the school with state National Guard troops to prevent execution of a federal court order – that the school achieve racial integration. Blocked at the door, the students endured intense verbal abuse from a white mob.

At one point, Elizabeth Eckford was surrounded and threatened with lynching. After a tense standoff, President Dwight Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and also sent in the paratroopers to enforce the court order. After Eisenhower’s action, the Little Rock Nine entered the school, where some white students made additional verbal and physical assaults on the newcomers. Melba Pattillo had acid thrown in her eyes, and Eckford was pushed down a flight of stairs. The male students in the group were subjected to more conventional beatings.

Change never comes easily. As a son of the South, I am embarrassed for segregation – and the reluctance to integrate. When I was a child growing up in Houston, we still had “colored drinking fountains” at the Houston Zoo. My junior high school had just eight blacks. And fights were a common affair.

In today’s culture, it is easy to see how far we still have to go. But when we look back a bit, we can rejoice to see how far we have already come.

Benedict Arnold

On this day in history, 1780, Benedict Arnold gave the British the plans to West Point. Arnold was a general during the American Revolutionary War who originally fought for the American Continental Army but defected to the British Army. While a general on the American side, he obtained command of the fortifications at West Point, New York. When his plans to give information to the enemy became known, he defected to the British side.

In July 1780, Arnold was offered American command of West Point. When his plot to betray his men was discovered, he fled down the Hudson River to the British area known as Vulture, narrowly avoiding capture by the forces of George Washington, who had been alerted to the plot.

Throughout history, there have been stories of traitors. Judas was one. He betrayed Jesus for a few coins. Peter was one. He denied Christ three times in one night. And I am one. I rejected his claim on my life for years.

Whose side are you fighting on? I love the words of Joshua. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

 

The Rushmore Report: The Death of a President

The death of a president – it happened this week in history, 1881. James A. Garfield died of wounds suffered in a shooting two and a half months earlier. Much has been made of the assassinations of presidents Lincoln and Kennedy. But the death of Garfield was interesting in many ways. For example, Lincoln’s son was an eye witness. And despite the shooting, President Garfield didn’t have to die. This is his story.

Garfield was scheduled to leave Washington on July 2, 1881, for his summer vacation. On that day, Charles J. Guiteau lay in wait for the president at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station, on the southwest corner of present-day Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, D.C.

President Garfield came to the Sixth Street Station on his way to his alma mater, Williams College, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech. He was accompanied by two of his sons, James and Harry, and Secretary of State James Blaine. Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln (Abe Lincoln’s son) waited at the station to see the president off. Garfield had no bodyguard or security detail; with the exception of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, early U.S. presidents did not employ guards.

As President Garfield entered the waiting room of the station, Guiteau stepped forward and pulled the trigger from behind at point-blank range. “My God, what is that?” Garfield cried out, flinging up his arms. Guiteau fired again and Garfield collapsed. One bullet grazed Garfield’s shoulder; the other hit him in the back, passing the first lumbar vertebra but missing the spinal cord before coming to rest behind his pancreas.

Most historians and medical experts now believe that Garfield probably would have survived his wounds had the doctors attending him been more capable. Unfortunately for Garfield, most American doctors of the day did not believe in anti-sepsis measures or the need for cleanliness to prevent infection. Several inserted their unsterilized fingers into the wound to probe for the bullet, and one doctor punctured Garfield’s liver in doing so.

Also, self-appointed chief physician D. Willard Bliss had supplanted Garfield’s usual physician, Jedediah Hyde Baxter. Bliss and other doctors who attended Garfield had guessed wrong about the path of the bullet in Garfield’s body. They had erroneously probed rightward into Garfield’s back instead of leftward, missing the location of the bullet but creating a new channel which filled with pus. The autopsy not only discovered this error but revealed pneumonia in both lungs and a body that was filled with pus due to uncontrolled septicemia.

We have had four presidential assassinations in American history. But only this one was the result, in part, of poor medical care. The death of a president – it happened 136 years ago this week.

 

The Day a President Died

William McKinley was the 25th president of the United States. He was a man of great accomplishment. McKinley led the nation to victory in the Spanish-American War, raised tariffs that promoted American industry, and maintained the gold standard. He was the last president to have served in the Civil War and the only president to have started the war as a private in the Union Army.

Amid a deep economic depression, the Republican defeated William Jennings Bryan, who had been heavily favored in the 1896 election. He defeated Bryan in a rematch in 1900.

But McKinley’s legacy was cut short in a single day. On September 6, 1901, Leon Czolgosz, a Polish-American, shot the president. He died eight days later, on September 14, 116 years ago today. This thrust Vice President Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency. And the successful presidency of Mr. McKinley was soon overshadowed by the ever popular Roosevelt.

Life can change in a moment – for good or bad. And sometimes this change is beyond our control. The lesson? Take hold of today – the only day you are promised. Make it count, because what happens next is anyone’s guess.

September 11, 2001

On this day, 16 years ago, five hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the northern facade of the World Trade Center’s North Tower, followed by another five hijackers crashing United Airlines Flight 175 into the southern facade of the South Tower. Five more hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon moments later. Within 51 minutes, all three events transpired.

A fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93, under the control of four hijackers, crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh, a few minutes later. Flight 93’s target is believed to have been the Capitol or the White House.

At 9:40 a.m., the FAA grounded all aircraft within the continental United States, and aircraft already in flight were told to land immediately. All international civilian aircraft were either turned back or redirected to airports in Canada or Mexico, and all international flights were banned from landing on U.S. soil for three days.

The attacks created widespread confusion among news organizations and air traffic controllers. Among the unconfirmed and often contradictory news reports aired throughout the day, one of the most prevalent said a car bomb had been detonated at the U.S. State Department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Another jet – Delta Airlines Flight 1989 – was suspected of having been hijacked, but the aircraft responded to controllers and landed safely in Cleveland, Ohio.

If ever there was a day when we all remember where we were, it was 9/11. I got the call from my soon-to-be assistant at my new position, as pastor of a church in north Texas. I quickly turned on my TV and followed the events with the rest of America.

There are too many lessons from 9/11 to recount here. I leave you with one. Ours is a great country. May it not take another tragic event like 9/11 to remind us of that fact.

The Day Edison Flipped the Switch

After devising a commercially viable electric light bulb on October 21, 1879, Thomas Edison went on to develop an electric “utility” designed to compete with the then existent gas lighting utilities. In 1880, he founded the Edison Illuminating Company. The company established the first investor-owned electric utility in 1882 on Pearl Street Station in New York City.

It was there, on this date in 1882, that Edison switched on his Pearl Street generating station’s electrical power distribution system, which provided 110 volts of direct current (DC) to 59 customers in lower Manhattan.

Earlier in the year, he had switched on the first steam-generating power station at Holborn Viaduct in London. The DC supply system provided electricity supplies to street lamps and several private dwellings within a short distance of the station. On January 19, 1883, the first standardized incandescent electric lighting system employing overhead wires began service in Roselle, New Jersey.

Thomas Edison was an innovator like no other. We owe him far more than most Americans realize. But the real secret behind Mr. Edison was this – he used his giftedness for the benefit of others.

That’s all God wants any of us to do. There comes a time when we need to quit doing what we have always done in order to do what we were born to do.

Surrender

Combat ended in the Pacific Theater of the Second World War on September 2, 1945. Following the dropping of two atomic bombs, the Instrument of Surrender by Japan was signed by Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and accepted aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo.

After the Japanese agreed to surrender, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser of the Royal Navy, the Commander of the British Pacific Fleet, boarded the Missouri on August 16 and conferred the honor of Knight of the British Empire upon Admiral Halsey. Missouri transferred a landing party of 200 officers and men to the battle ship Iowa for temporary duty with the initial occupation force for Tokyo on August 21. Missouri herself entered Tokyo Bay on the 29th to prepare for the signing by Japan of the official instrument of surrender.

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz boarded shortly after 8:00 am, and General of the Army Douglass MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allies, came on board at 8:43. The Japanese representatives, headed by Shigemitsu, arrived at 8:56. At 9:02, General MacArthur stepped before a battery of microphones and opened the 23-minute surrender ceremony to the waiting world by stating, “It is my earnest hope – indeed the hope of all mankind – that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world founded upon faith and understanding, a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance, and justice.”

Man is still seeking freedom. Thank God for men like Douglass MacArthur – for reminding us of the things that matter most in this life – freedom, tolerance, and justice.

Nagasaki

An atomic bomb known as “Fat Man” was dropped by a United States B-29 bomber this day in history, 1945. The target was Nagasaki. The number dead – 39,000.

For 12 months prior to the nuclear attack, Nagasaki had experienced five small-scale air attacks by an aggregate of 136 planes which dropped a total of 270 tons of high explosive bombs, 53 tons of incendiary bombs, and 20 tons of fragmentation bombs.

But none of these compared to the utter devastation of the atomic bomb.

Within less than a second after the detonation, the north side of the city was destroyed. At least 39,000 were dead – possibly as many as 80,000. About half died immediately, some after days and even weeks. This second atomic bomb was more powerful than the “Little Boy” bomb that had been dropped over Hiroshima.

There are many lessons to be learned from the atomic bombs that ushered a close to WWII. I will leave the political and military analysis to those qualified to address such issues. But we do know one thing. The Japanese had prior warning of both atomic drops. Even after Hiroshima, they did not surrender. It was only after the horror of Nagasaki, 72 years ago today, that they surrendered.

We are still like that today. It takes more to get our attention than it should. And most of us, like Japan, are unwilling to surrender until after the devastation of non-surrender becomes too real.

The key to peace and victorious living is to surrender to God through Jesus Christ. There is no need to wait. There is no need to suffer the carnage of sin first. Jesus already did that for us on the cross.

The Rushmore Report: You Think Politics Is Rough Now – The VP Who Killed a Man

You think politics is rough now? We cringe when we hear of President Trump’s daily tweets. Then we hear the despicable things many in the media say about him. Democrats blast Republicans and Republicans blast Democrats – daily. But this is nothing compared to what happened this week in history. On July 11, 1804, the sitting Vice President of the United States killed the former Secretary of the Treasury in a duel.

It was the culmination of a long and bitter rivalry between the two men.

In the early morning hours of July 11, 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton departed by separate boats from Manhattan and rowed across the Hudson River to a spot known as the Heights of Weehawken in New Jersey, a popular dueling ground below the towering cliffs of the Palisades. Hamilton and Burr agreed to take the duel to Weehawken because although dueling had been prohibited in both states, New York more aggressively prosecuted the crime. (The same site was used for 18 known duels between 1700 and 1845.)

In an attempt to prevent the participants from being prosecuted, procedures were implemented to give all witnesses plausible deniability. For example, the pistols were transported to the island in a portmanteau, enabling the rowers (who also stood with their backs to the duelists) to say under oath that they had not seen any pistols.

All first-hand accounts of the duel agree that two shots were fired; however, Hamilton’s and Burr’s seconds disagreed on the intervening time between the shots. It was common for both principals in a duel to fire a shot at the ground to exemplify courage, and then the duel could come to an end. Hamilton fired first, and into the air, though it is not clear that Burr perceived him to be “throwing away his fire” (as it did not follow the standard protocol).

Burr returned fire and hit Hamilton in the lower abdomen above the right hip. The musket ball ricocheted off Hamilton’s second or third rib – fracturing it – and caused considerable damage to his internal organs, particularly his liver and diaphragm before becoming lodged in his first or second lumbar vertebra. Hamilton collapsed immediately, dropping the pistol involuntarily, and Burr moved toward Hamilton before being hustled away behind an umbrella, as rowers were already approaching.

Hamilton was carried away, to the home of William Bayard, where he died the next day with his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, at his side.

Is politics rough today? Sure it is. But things could be worse. So the next time you feel things have really gotten out of hand, remember Mr. Hamilton.

The Rushmore Report: America – Why Didn’t Someone Do Something?

“There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence.” Those were the words of Daniel Webster. Why didn’t someone do something? Those five words still haunt my thoughts today.

Sometime ago, I sat speechless as I listened to a man recount his trip to a holocaust museum with his young daughter. As they walked by photos of the death camps, gas chambers, and countless bodies piled one upon another, his daughter silently contemplated the horrors that were unfolding before her eyes.

When the tour ended, they drove home without saying a word. The father wondered if she truly understood the significance of the event. Was she too young to view such depravity? Was she too fragile to cope with the truth of the holocaust? Would it make a negative impact on her life? Would it leave her fearful and wounded? Would she begin to doubt God?

His questions were answered nearly two hours later when his daughter finally spoke. She looked at her father and asked, “Daddy, why didn’t someone do something?”

Will we hear those same haunting words from our children and grandchildren? Yes! if we fail to contend for what is right, we may see a time in our history when our children will ask, “Why didn’t someone do something?” Sadly, we may not be able to answer.

America can been desensitized one generation at a time, one court decision at a time, one compromise at a time, and we are drowning in a cesspool of relativism. “The wicked freely parade and prance about while evil is praised throughout the land” (Psalm 12:8).

What can I do? What can we do? People are often willing to help, but they lack motivation; they also don’t know where to begin. How can we honor God and preserve our values? Here are just a few ways:

1. Lead a life of integrity regardless of what society promotes.

Although only a select few can change government policy, all of us can build a life of moral integrity while staying committed to God’s Word. Certain “rights” and “wrongs” called absolutes are given by God to save man from himself. One of the best ways to make a difference is to live a life based on moral absolutes, and by letting honesty and integrity guide our decisions. Society changes as individuals change.

M. H. McKee states it well, “Integrity is one of several paths. It distinguishes itself from the others because it is the right path, and the only one upon which you will never get lost.” Proverbs 11:3 adds, “The integrity of the upright will guide them.”

2. Pray and fast for our nation.

Prayer is more powerful than protest! We should not rely on political power, but on the power of God through prayer. The great preacher, C. H. Spurgeon, once said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”

For those who doubt the power of prayer in America’s history, consider this excerpt from the book, One Nation Under God – The History of Prayer in America. “Prayer stands as one of the most critical and indisputable factors to have influenced the course of American history.”

3. Vote for principles, not parties.

“He who rules over men must be just” (2 Samuel 23:3). We need more humble, God-fearing leaders. The Lord hates pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness. Without humility and a teachable spirit, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to govern properly. Humility does not mean that leaders become passive pawns, but that they live in total surrender to God; they’re more concerned with God’s opinion than opinion polls.

We can no longer hide behind the excuse, “I don’t want to get involved.” As citizens, we are given the privilege, for now, to place people in positions of leadership. Whether we like it or not, we are involved. Millions are not registered to vote; and millions of registered voters stay at home. We’ll stand in line to see a movie, but we won’t stand in line to vote and elect leaders who will affect the direction of our country. This makes a statement about what we value.

God is our only hope. “Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalm 85:6).

About the Author

Shane Idleman is a contributor to ChristianHeadlines.com.