For God and For Country: Fighting in the Revolution

Pastor and Soldier: Pastor John Muhlenberg reveals to his congregation his soldier’s uniform. During the American Revolution, two brothers — both pastors — greatly disagreed on whether or not the church should involve itself in government affairs. By the end of the conflict, they strongly agreed that Christians should fight for freedom from the pulpit and on the battlefield. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg pastored two churches in Woodstock, Virginia, and served as an officer in the Continental Army. In addition to his religious and military duties, John Peter also served…

The Little Known Ride of Jack Jouett

Thanks largely to an 1860 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, most Americans have heard of the “midnight ride of Paul Revere.”  Although romanticized by Longfellow, Paul Revere is a figure in U.S. history who should rightfully be celebrated.  But was there a far more obscure ride that may have had a greater influence on American history than Revere’s? By 1781, six years into the American Revolution, the British had overrun much of Virginia, the largest American colony, in an attempt to severely damage the Colonial war effort.  On the night…

The Beaches of Normandy: As Seen From Above on June 6, 1944

In 1939, Leonard “Len” Zerlin was 17 years old when his high school history teacher showed the class a newspaper article about a Civil War soldier who was still alive. “Wouldn’t it be great if this Civil War soldier with a wooden leg came to our class to tell us his stories about the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Gettysburg?” the teacher asked the class. Unfortunately, the soldier died before Len’s class got to hear him speak, but Len was enthralled with the notion nonetheless. Today, Len is…

America Learns Hard Lessons in the Great War

In 1914, Europe and much of the world were engaged in a horrific struggle that at the time was known as the Great War and that history would ultimately call World War I.  The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria set off a chain of events that resulted in world powers going to war against each other.  Germany, Austria-Hungry, and the Ottoman Empire were allies that collectively became known as the Central Powers.  France, Great Britain, and Russia were the major nations opposing them and became known as the…

Passover and America

Three thousand years after the Hebrews (Israelites) were freed from bondage in Egypt — an event celebrated as part of Passover — a new nation on a new continent saw a parallel to the great Exodus of the Bible in its own developing history America had begun as a place of refuge for those escaping religious persecution, but by the 1760s the colonists were experiencing increasing political and economic persecution from the King of England as well. Led by George Washington, American colonies fought the Revolutionary War, defeating England, the…

Happy Birthday, Thomas Jefferson

“Question with boldness.” “Hold to the truth.” “Speak without fear.” These profound words — all spoken or written by Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s Founding Fathers — are needed now more than ever at this critical time in our nation. In recognition of Jefferson’s birthday, April 13th, 1743, let’s take a closer look at this remarkable man who did more than most to cement our liberties into law. Jefferson spoke eight languages and could write in 11. He was a voracious reader who owned an extensive library of books,…

Remembering Dachau: WWII Veteran Recalls Liberation

International Holocaust Remembrance Day was January 27, 2021, which also marked the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp. April 29, 2021, will mark the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Dachau Concentration Camp.  Dachau opened on March 22, 1933, to hold political prisoners. Eventually, it included forced laborers, German and Austrian criminals’ imprisonment, foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded, and ultimately, Jews. There were 32,000 documented deaths at Dachau and thousands of undocumented deaths. It served as a model for the other German concentration…