U.S. District Judge Robert Brack addresses veterans

Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

In an early kick-off to Veterans Day events veterans and members of the public gathered Saturday for a program honoring God, country and veterans at Southside Church of Christ with keynote speaker, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Brack of Las Cruces.

The event followed the church’s mens’ breakfast and was billed as an event for all denominations. The program interspersed prayer, music and audio visual presentation in honoring the sacrifices of local veterans. The event is an annual affair.

In opening, Brack, who was a former 9th Judicial District judge in Clovis a few years ago, said he wanted to talk toward a theme of unity and healing our country together as a nation. He said he also wanted to talk some about weather.

“We find ourselves at a critical moment in our nation’s history,” said Brack, “when we’re more concerned with being politically correct than in solving problems.”

He quoted Harry Truman and scripture from Solomon that says there is nothing new under the sun to point up that weather has been a big factor in a lot of historical events. He cited this year’s hurricane season as one of those historical events.

“Many believe, particularly about Katrina, it was God’s wrath being poured out on a modern day Sodom and Gomorah,” said Brack. “I don’t pretend to know the mind of God but the disciples who were caught in that boat (just before Jesus calmed the waters of the Sea of Galilee) might take issue with the idea of the weather being neutral.”

Brack told the group that the United States is one of the few countries that can actually pinpoint the moment of its birth.

He said that most gathered there were familiar with the origins of the nation’s birth and many probably knew how young and inexperienced in nation-building Thomas Jefferson and other founders were at the time.

“Did you know we came within a hair’s breath of losing the war for independence just six weeks into it?” Brack asked the crowd.

He related the details of the Battle of Long Island in which Washington’s troops, outnumbered two-to-one, suffered a bruising defeat at the hands of British General William Howe, leading a highly trained, well equipped army against the rag-tag militia.

Brack said Washington’s army retreated into Brooklyn and was trapped against the East River with no apparent escape but Howe didn’t follow right away to finish them off.

Instead Howe’s brother, Admiral Richard Howe, made plans to sail up the East River to totally surround Washington’s forces. A strong gale out of the west, and a river too narrow for his ships to tack on, gave Washington time. He ordered every boat in the area be brought in to carry his army across the river to safety under the cover of darkness.

Just before dawn Washington could see his troops weren’t all going to make it across before light, so he knelt on the banks of the river and prayed. A thick fog soon ascended on the area and enveloped his retreating forces long enough to make safety.

Brack cited another incident of prayer and weather changing the outcome of a battle when he related a similar story about Gen. George Patton.

With the 101st Airborne trapped in Bastogne, Belgium during World War II, Patton disengaged forces from a battle being fought 100 miles away to rush to their rescue. When he arrived he saw he had no hope of saving them without massive air support, but weather had been snowy and terrible for days.

Patton ordered a chaplain to prepare a prayer for good weather and Patton reportedly knelt in the snow to pray. The next morning dawned bright and clear and the trapped 101st Airborne was saved.

Brack ended his speech by recognizing the veterans in attendance and thanking them for their faithful service to their country.

“They all answered that call and served this country so well,” he said of the veterans.

“We do live in troubled times,” said Brack. “A war is going on right now, a war of ideals. If we’ve lost our focus as a nation, then let us honor those sacrifices. We serve a great, glorious and sovereign God — we also serve a great nation.”

“We couldn’t have the freedoms we have without your sacrifices,” said Lemon Dotson, coordinator of the day’s program in recognizing the veterans at the end of the program.