This is an editorial that appeared in the local newspapers in Pike County, Georgia and Lamar County, Georgia, written by Pastor Herb Flanders of the United Methodist Church.
Dear President Obama,
As I gather the Sunday before Memorial Day to worship with two United Methodist congregations I pastor in Griffin, GA, I'll think about some of your recent comments. I'll be thinking of what you told a crowd of about 2,000 in Strasbourg, Germany, as you spoke of our nation's views of Europe - "Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."
The gray, balding heads on the people who worship with me attest to their years of toil and labor on this Earth. They are, as Jesus said, the 'salt of the Earth." They are grandmamas and granddaddies, blue collar folks who worked hard to build a community and raise families, to give to others when they had precious little for themselves. They continue to do these things today.
Salt of the Earth they are and heroes to boot. When this nation called they answered with a resounding 'yes' and went where Uncle Sam asked them. A couple of months ago, we laid John Busbin to rest.
Like you, he visited Europe on behalf of the U.S. He beat you there by 65 years and spent his time marking and clearing mine fields, not giving speeches. Rather than being arrogant, dismissive or derisive, John partnered with the French and others to meet a common challenge. Others did the same, sailing on ships, slogging through mud or soaring through the air because evil and tyranny were well on their way to taking over the world.
I wish you'd come May 24th and sit with these folks as we sing America the Beautiful and America. I'd like it if you could sit up front with me when Maxine Bunn and Jerry Turner do a medley of military service hymns and the veterans or spouses of deceased veterans stand when their branch's hymn is played. They grab hold of the pew in front of them to pull themselves to their feet. I know I'm in the company of giants.
I'd love for you to meet Janie Worthy and understand those tears that still glisten on her cheeks each Memorial Day Sunday.
Janie married John Pershing Botkin in August 1943. Their daughter Gail was born Aug. 10, 1944, three or four months after John shipped out to Europe. Janie, 19, went to St. Mary's, Ohio to stay with her in-laws after Gail was born. One Sunday afternoon in early December, farm families began to call each other as the postmaster's Model A made its way down the country roads. They knew that car carried news that would shatter a family and were trying to figure out where he was headed. He stopped in front of Janie's in-laws' farmhouse. Her daddy-in-law walked out to meet him and learned that John was killed in action Nov. 11, 1944, serving with the Army in Alsace. Cpl. Botkin never saw, held or kissed his little girl. As a father, you can empathize with Janie's salty tears.
Perhaps if you could come you'd see why your words hurt so many so much. America may be many things and she certainly isn't perfect, but heroes with whom I share my life have hardly been arrogant dismissive or derisive of Europe. They've given themselves to save Europe when Europe couldn't save itself.
So, Mr. President, get out of Washington for a weekend and take a trip down to Georgia. We'll feed you some barbecue over in Williamson and I'll introduce you to some friends of mine, some everyday giants and ordinary heroes.
Pastor, Highland-Hanleiter United Methodist Churches
Posted with Rev. Flanders kind permission.