Eternal Father Strong to Save

November 29, 2011

Do we think it will stop with banning crosses by the side of remote highways in the Utah desert? It will not. The atheizers will not rest until they have sandblasted all the crosses in American public life and bulldozed all references to Jesus on federal property.

I thought of this yesterday when I served as an usher at the Naval Academy Chapel. A dear friend had passed away suddenly.

Standing by the elevator, I could really study the stained glass windows in the chapel. The sun streamed through, brilliantly lighting the figure of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut. The 64-year old Farragut is shown lashed to the rigging of his ship, the USS Hartford, at the Battle of Mobile Bay. Fearless as he was, he suffered from vertigo. He is known to history for one great saying; "Da-n the torpedoes, full speed ahead." Farraguts family wanted us to know that, salty sailor that he was, he was also a man of deep faith. So the well-thumbed prayer book of Admiral Farragut is encased in this Chapel.

What will the atheizers do with this Chapel? They can cover over the saying engraved in gold above the altar: Eternal Father Strong to Save. They can paint over the Tiffany stained glass figure of Jesus walking on the waters. They might leave 69--the numbers that tell us the window as a gift of the Academy Class of 1869. But the gold cross on the altar will have to go.

Once they have obliterated all signs of Christianity from the Chapel, it would be--like the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople--a formerly Christian site. That magnificent Byzantine structure was de-consecrated when the Turks conquered the city. The Turks turned it into a mosque. And todays votaries of the religion of peace informed Pope Benedict XVI he should not cross himself on entering the threshold, lest he provoke riots throughout what is called the Muslim world.

The atheizers will have to go further with the USNA Chapel. Thats because the very building is shaped like a cross. Originally, it was a Jerusalem cross, but in 1940, the new nave was added, extending the chapels length and increasing to 2,500 its seating capacity. Now, from the air, it looks like a Latin cross. How can that be tolerated by the tolerance lobby?

Well, the Blue Angels wont have to look down on that Latin cross, the Chapel where many of them worshipped, where many of them were married, and from where not a few Academy graduates were buried. It seems that the Blue Angels--along with other military precision jet flying teams--will be grounded. Budget cuts. This administration has $500 million to give to the PLO, the folks who invented airline hijacking for terror purposes, but it has no money for these American heroes.

The friend whose funeral we attended was a proud Navy wife. Her husband was one of the thousands who risked his life daily for our freedoms sake.

She once thanked me for a column I wrote, and asked me to plead with President Bush not to apologize for landing second seat on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. With tears in her eyes, our friend said the NFOs--naval flight officers--never got the recognition they deserved. For the brave fliers and sailors of the Mighty Lincoln, their mission was indeed accomplished. Their commander-in-chief had nothing to apologize for. She was right. The president was wrong to apologize to members of the media who never flew, never served, and never understood.

Whether we are believers or not, every American should take alarm at the ceaseless attacks on religious liberty. Where is this administration in the Utah cross case? Does a president who delivers a Thanksgiving Address to the nation--without mentioning the One to whom thanks are offered--understand what he is putting at risk? The men who are launched daily--and nightly--from carrier decks may not themselves all be believers.

But without the believers in our armed services, no ship would sail, no planes would be launched, no submarines would dive.

The atheizers want a naked public square. But that is not what our all-volunteer military is defending. A naked public square cannot stand by itself. Nature abhors a vacuum. So does a people. The atheizers are only clearing the path for a militant faith, a religion that advances not with palm fronds laid in the path of a prince of peace, but with fire and sword.

For our friend, her heart was with her hero husband every time he slippd the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.

For her, for the thousands of other wives and families of our fliers, we sang as we departed that Naval Academy Chapel:

Lord, guard and guide the men who fly

Through the great spaces in the sky

Be with them always in the air

In darkning storms or sunlight fair

Hear us when we lift our prayer

For those in peril in the air.