No political blogging this morning. Instead, a great video tribute to Michigan soldiers who served in the Civil War, with historical music provided by actor and native Michigander Jeff Daniels:
It’s hard for me not to be moved by this tribute, having studied the U.S. Civil War so extensively, having traveled to so many of its battlefield sites, having four ancestors who served in the War (including three who died in the service — one in the 9th Michigan Volunteer Infantry), and having my alma mater Hillsdale College so prominently represented in the 4th Michigan and other regiments:
A higher percentage of Hillsdale students enlisted during the Civil War than from any other western college. Of the more than 400 who fought for the Union, four won the Congressional Medal of Honor, three became generals and many more served as regimental commanders. Sixty gave their lives.
Furthermore, yes, “Michigan, My Michigan” is the official song of my native state.
The 1860s were such a different time in so many ways, and yet there must be some similar sentiments shared by our military personnel on active duty today. Lend a thought or prayer to our troops serving overseas and to their families.
The story of the heroism of Deer Creek Middle School math teacher David Benke is a compelling one. A Jefferson County schoolteacher like many others who went to work yesterday, placed into an unexpected moment of high stress and great danger to those around him, he acted as we all would hope to act under similar circumstances.
His initial action to stop the shooter at Deer Creek very well may have saved lives. By all accounts, he also is a man far less interested in his own instant fame than in the well-being of his students who were subjected to this violent attack.
For all these reasons, it is fitting and proper to acknowledge Dr. David Benke as a hero. For he is more deserving than many in our modern celebrity age who have gained the appellation. (One small way to make the acknowledgment that promotes the best in civil society, you can join the “Dr. David Benke is a hero” Facebook page — 11,700 strong and growing as I write this.)
I had the honor to meet Dr. Benke briefly several years ago at an education-related meeting. My vague impressions are of a thoughtful man, a man of modesty and integrity. Now add courage to the profile.
Be thankful for Dr. Benke and the other Deer Creek staff members who acted to stop the gunman. With God’s help, may many of us be able to do the same if confronted with a similar crisis situation. Now our prayers go out to the injured students and their families, as we thank God that more students were not hurt, or worse.
On this 201st anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, no lengthy tributes are needed — I don’t even have time to replicate the modest one I wrote last year for the bicentennial. I did, however, want to take the occasion to recommend a book to you that was recommended to me by fellow RMA blogger Don Johnson about Christmastime.
Lincoln at Peoria by Lewis Lehrman highlights the great turning point in Abraham Lincoln’s political career, the awakening that resulted from the Kansas-Nebraska Act and his powerful October 1854 speech at Peoria, Illinois, which sharpened the distinctly antislavery focus that led to his key role in forming the Republican Party, debating Stephen Douglas in 1858 and ultimately serving as President during our nation’s most trying time. I recommend Lincoln at Peoria among the essential Lincoln books.
But don’t take my word for it. Of Lehrman’s book, Harry Jaffa, the dean of Lincoln scholars, writes:
The Peoria speech was what Socrates would call his “second sailing,” Lincoln’s re-entry into political life, to rescue the principles of the Declaration from the reproach of hypocrisy, to complete the work of the American Founders, and to make possible a new birth of freedom. Lincoln at Peoria laid the foundation for the greatest statesmanship the world has ever seen. We are greatly indebted to Lewis Lehrman’s superb book for helping us to understand why no list, however short, of the greatest speeches of all time could omit Lincoln at Peoria.
Thanks, Don, for the recommendation. Now I pass the recommendation on to all my readers as well.
Another year has come and gone. Today Mount Virtus is 6 years old, which perhaps puts me in the ranks of Colorado’s political blogging ancients. I have a few graying hairs to show for it. My blog’s 6th birthday also means 99 years ago today one of our greatest Presidents — Ronald Reagan — was born. It’s also Waitangi Day in New Zealand. But that’s neither here nor there.
One day after a refreshing U.S. Supreme Court victory for free speech, today we mark the 37th anniversary of Roe v Wade — a somber occasion for our nation. I recommend to you a well-written “In Memoriam” by Red State’s Erick Erickson. A couple key passages:
The truth that these children are biologically human and biologically distinct from their mothers is beyond question to anyone who believes in the most basic tenets of science. Why, then, are they declared so totally bereft of rights in our society? The fact that a woman can, with the protection of the law, kill her child on the day of its planned full-term delivery, indicates clearly that the only answer to this question is “physical location within their mother’s womb.” If a child is in this place, it may be killed with impunity; if it is in another, to kill it is murder….
There’s no stopping the forward press of time. I’m not so sure about turning 33 today, but at least my name isn’t Josh. A few months ago the combination of age and name seemed so charmed. They were a pair of Colorado wunderkinds: one 33-year-old Josh making strides towards one of Colorado’s most powerful positions, the other 33-year-old Josh newly occupying the other.
Josh Penry was making giant strides toward the Republican nomination for governor. Then one day in November the plug suddenly was pulled on his campaign. Now he isn’t even running for re-election to his own state senate seat in 2010. What’s going on?
But he’s on Cloud Nine compared to Josh McDaniels, who yesterday felt the bitter sting of missing the playoffs in his first season as an NFL head coach, losing 8 of the final 10 games after starting 6-0. Add in the turmoil with Brandon Marshall and other Bronco players, and it looks like the bandwagon is emptying for the time being. Where does he go from here?
I still have high hopes for 33. After all, so far it doesn’t seem much different than 32. The year’s work has just begun. I’m back in the fight.
In honor of the great Ludwig von Beethoven‘s 239th birthday, why not pop in a CD or MP3 and take in one of his symphonies: maybe the overlooked 1st, the mighty 3rd, the classic 5th, the serene 6th, the passionate 7th … or if you have a lot of time on your hands, the transcendent 9th?
Today brings a difficult reminder of how quickly time passes. It was exactly one years ago that the Rocky Mountain Alliance lost a charter member, and I lost a good friend and Christian brother: Jim Cannon. From our point of view, he left us all too soon. But God knew just when to bring him home.
I am thankful for the opportunity to have known Jim, and for the positive impact he had on my life. Here is the eulogy I was honored to deliver at Jim’s memorial service last December.
And here is a passage from Revelation 21 to lift our thoughts heavenward: (more…)
With that, I’ll leave a Thanksgiving meditation from Scripture, Psalm 145 (with passages that caught my attention highlighted in bold):
1 I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.
7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
9 The LORD is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.
10 All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.
11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power;
12 To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
14 The LORD sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.
16 You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.
18 The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
20 The LORD keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.
No one in the area is better at leveraging the media spotlight than my boss Jon Caldara. Witness today’s perfect-pitch feature by the Denver Post‘s Jessica Fender:
Asked what has allowed Colorado’s free-market think tank, the Independence Institute, to live long enough for a 25th-anniversary celebration tonight, the organization’s famously bawdy president offers a joke.
“Embezzlement,” says Jon Caldara. “Embezzlement and glossy black-and-white photographs of politicians in compromising positions.”
Last year at this time I was in the middle of writing a 20-part blog series on “What I’m Thankful For.” While I have no plans in reprising the series for 2009, I have created a new permanent page on the site with links to each post — from “The Legacy of My Grandparents” to “Vision” and everything in between.
Eleven days until the official Thanksgiving holiday, and it’s never too early to start reflecting on the need for more gratitude in each of our lives.
Ninety-one years ago today “the war to end all wars” officially ended. Among the millions of dead were more than 100,000 brave American military servicemen out of hundreds of thousands who honorably served (including two of my great uncles: Bill DeGrow and John E. “Ed” DeGrow). In 1954 the commemoration, originally called Armistice Day, expanded to celebrate the service of all American veterans and became known as Veterans Day.
Today I join with the millions of other Americans who honor the men and women who have worn the uniform for their sacrificial service on behalf of our nation. I am especially grateful this year to see so many businesses offering promotions that benefit our active duty personnel and veterans.
It almost goes without saying that the United States is besieged these days by dangers without and dangers within. In that light, may God keep our Republic strong, and may God enfold all our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines — and their families — with firm guidance and loving protection.
Twenty years ago today the Berlin Wall came down. Not exactly breaking news for my well-informed readers, but the significance of the event is hard to overstate. For five minutes of valuable reflection on the power of freedom with a stirring Beethoven soundtrack, check out this terrific video from the Competitive Enterprise Institute: (more…)
Two years ago today I posted a brief memoir in honor of what would have been my Grandpa’s 100th birthday. It was uplifting to go back and re-read what I wrote then — something that seldom happens with the many things I write here.
I wouldn’t change anything, except to add an update. Thanks to my brother’s experimentation, I now have a recipe for popcorn that very nearly resembles Grandpa’s very special, almost-world-famous concoction. In the past week I’ve made myself a few batches — even ate one batch while watching one of the World Series games. Good memories of good times nearly brought to life.