Last week I shared with our 7th-12th grade boys the story of WW2 veteran Red Falvey, as told by William J. Bennett in The Book of Man. Mr. Falvey’s story is well worth reading (and you can find it in its entirety here at National Review Online, by the way). I shared it with the boys as an example of duty, sacrifice, and perseverance. Here are excerpts from this story, and I hope it inspires you as it did me and the young men of Regents. The message for the boys was clear: real manhood means sacrifice and devotion, and faithfulness to our duty is our high calling under God. Thank God for men like Red Falvey who have faithfully shown us the way.
All Red Falvey wanted for his twenty-first birthday was the right to jump out of planes, to see the ground rushing up, feel terror for a few short seconds, then pull the cord and watch the parachute billow above and the world swing below him — but now he was standing in front of the recruiter, and the stern-faced man with the notepad asked if there was anything wrong with his body.
“I can’t touch my left shoulder.”
The recruiter’s face crinkled up, “Aw, you’ll never get in. To get into airborne, you have to be 110 percent and there’s no way that they’re going to let you in.”
Red Falvey walked out of the recruiting station, discouraged but not defeated. It was Aug. 2, 1942, and the boy from Yonkers, N.Y., — who broke his arm climbing a tree — was a patriot. On Dec. 7, 1941, when the crackle of the radio interrupted his life and President Roosevelt called him to battle, he knew what he had to do.
It was on that day of infamy when he was calling on the girl that he would someday marry and be with for 54 years — Leona Swarthouse — that bigger news came rolling over the airwaves. Falvey couldn’t point out Pearl Harbor on a map, but one thought kept turning in his mind: Those silly little fools, do they have any idea what they’ve done? Don’t they know we’ll wipe them up in a week?
Growing up, Falvey spent much of his free time at the airfields, watching the barnstorming tours of planes with his brothers. He knew he wanted to be up in the air. Regardless of what any army recruiter told him, Falvey wanted to be airborne.
Despite his injured arm, Falvey proved the recruiters wrong and successfully enlisted in the 506th Infantry Regiment (known today as the popular Band of Brothers).
The 506th Regiment was an experiment, a test to see whether men could be better trained by being wholly devoted to the sky, rather than starting with 13 weeks with feet on the ground.
“We had to save time; the brass were trying to hurry things along and get us ready for combat,” said Falvey. “There was nothing easy about that training, and so many of those boys couldn’t handle the intensity. They washed out.”
Red Falvey never claims to be special, but he didn’t wash out.
“Our regiment was America,” said Falvey. “It was fellows who had college educations; it was fellows who had come off the farm.”
And there is the little-understood truth about history. There are the images that stand out in textbooks: Washington crossing a frozen Delaware, John Paul Jones returning a call for surrender with “I have not yet begun to fight,” and Alvin York single-handedly capturing 132 Germans in World War I. But alongside those faces leading the charge, there are the oft-overlooked men who follow, the men who forge ahead against the cold, and the men who continue when all others stop.
“We just felt we were special. That’s what they pushed into us. We were so very proud of our boots and our jumpsuits. . . . You know they blew us up and we ate it up. They told us how good we were, how good we had to be.”
While men doing extraordinary things laid the cornerstone of America, men who simply refused to give up built this country’s foundations.
Red Falvey never gave up.
Falvey never claimed to be something great on his own strength. But by joining more than 11 million other U.S. citizens serving in the U.S. forces during World War II, Falvey attained a higher standard of nobility: A class of people who sought to serve their country, rather than themselves — a quiet knighthood that did not need medals or praise to know they had fulfilled their duty. Soldiers, like Falvey, who did not relish the horrors of war, but who still said, “We knew we had a job to do and that nothing was going to happen with that war until they put us in.”
The recruiter tried to keep Falvey out of airborne. He couldn’t fire his gun with his right hand. He never finished first during the training or earned any great medals during combat. But Falvey answered the call of his country, went to war, and didn’t turn away. He came back to the United States and served his family and loved his wife.
Red Falvey was a man who served at war, but knew how to live at peace. He couldn’t touch his left shoulder, but he never washed out. He served.
Paul David Tripp offers some soul-stirring counsel about hope as we begin a new year. I hope it is an encouragement for you, as it was for me.
If you pay attention to the way we speak and the way we act, we’re always hoping for something.
“I hope our company does well this year” / “I hope he isn’t mad at me” / “I hope God answers my prayer” / “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow” / “I hope this sickness isn’t something serious”
As human beings, we hope. It’s our default setting. We attach our security and our sense of peace and rest to something every day. The question is not whether we hope, but what holds our hope.
I want to give you five principles about hope as we kick off 2016. I “hope” this devotional will help shape the way you think about your life in the new year.
1. You Hope In Something.
You could argue that the life of a human being is propelled by hope. From the little momentary hope of the young child for a new toy to the profound hope of the adult for meaning and purpose, we all hope. We all place our hope in someone or something, and we ask that person or that thing to deliver something to us.
2. Hope Is A Lifestyle.
Your hope shapes the way you live. Your hope causes you to make the decisions that you make. A lack of hope causes you to feel stuck and unmotivated. Confident hope makes you decisive and courageous. Wobbly hope makes you timid and indecisive. Hope is not just something you do with your brain. You always live your hope in some way.
3. Most Of Our Hopes Disappoint.
We all do it: we place our hope in things in this fallen world that simply can’t deliver. Your spouse can’t make you happy. Your job won’t make you content. Your possessions can’t satisfy your heart. Your physical health won’t give you inner peace. Your friends can’t give you meaning and purpose. When our hopes disappoint us, it’s a sign that we’ve put our hopes in the wrong things.
4. There Are Only Two Places Of Hope.
The theology of hope is quite simple – there are only two places to put your hope. You rest the hope of your life in the hands of the Creator or you look to the creation for hope. We’ve been exchanging the truth about God for a lie and worshipping and serving the creation rather than the Creator since the Fall.
5. Hope In God Is Sure.
When you hope in the Lord, you not only hope in the One who created and controls the universe, but also in One who is glorious in grace and abounding in love. No one can satisfy like Jesus. No one can bring rest like the Father. Only the Sovereign King provides an unshakeable foundation for hope.
So as you begin 2016, remember that you’re always hoping. Be aware of the false hopes that try to distract your soul, and run to Jesus. Only He provides hope both now and forever more!
Lately I have observed an increasing number of ways that our culture is ignoring, revising, or degrading the celebration of Christmas, and, for that matter, any specifically Christian public affirmation. It seems that our nation has accepted the position (and all the historical revisionism that comes with it) that the only official and publicly allowable religious affirmation in our nation’s public square is either skepticism or outright atheism. Cultural commentators far wiser than I have offered excellent documentation and analysis for this trend. In the midst of it, however, Regents Academy goes against the stream of officially disavowing Christmas in favor of a more acceptable, non-religious holiday or rejecting other public Christian affirmations in favor of a bland neutrality built on a fear of ever offending anyone’s sensibilities. Regents Academy is – and seeks to be, in every sense of the word – a Christian school. Jesus Christ is Lord – Lord of our school, its classes, teachers, curricula, policies, culture, and future.
I’ve been ruminating on a few of the consequences of the Lordship of Christ at our school:
• We will not be having any holiday parties or other holiday celebrations this December. We are having Christmas parties and Christmas celebrations, including Christmas trees, Christmas carols, Christmas presents, Christmas ornaments, Christmas decorations, Christmas sweaters, and Christmas joy. St. Nicholas is one of our heroes. We love celebrating Advent and want to make it one of the most special times of the year. Christmas is a holiday, but we celebrate our holiday because it is a “holy day” and we are followers of Jesus Christ the Holy Lord.
• We are a school, and we one of the main things we do is teach children to read. This we do because we believe that one of (if not the) primary purposes for learning to read is to be able to read the Bible. We put the immense gift of reading to use for a multitude of reasons, but central to them all is the gift of reading and hearing the Word of God. Without this gift, all the other gifts fall apart. We are people of the word because we are people of the Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us.
• We really do believe that prayer is powerful, and we are free to pray without ceasing at our school. This certainly means that we pray together in Morning Assembly each day, our teachers pray with their students at various times throughout the day, and we are each free to pray privately. And we are very happy we have this wonderful freedom. But our praying means that we believe that God is actually present – and welcome – in our halls and classrooms and ball fields. We look to Him and call on Him and rely on Him and implore His favor through prayer. Jesus Christ is not only Lord of all the earth and the far flung galaxies; He is Lord here and now, with us to enable us and guide us. We pray because we believe this.
• We believe that what we have is what we’ve been given. We didn’t make ourselves, and we didn’t give ourselves the riches that we possess and the liberties that we enjoy every day. God is the author of all the blessings that we receive and enjoy at all times. So while we’re not as thankful as we ought to be, we are thankful nonetheless. God is good, all the time, in good times and bad. And thankfulness to God fills the air at our school. In fact, one of our key goals is to cultivate thankfulness in ourselves, to model gratitude before our students, and then to train them to be thankful for what they are being given. We believe we would be failures if we produce smart kids who perform well on tests, go to impressive colleges on big scholarships, and attain success, but who are not humbly thankful.
The Child in the manger rules the world as King and Lord. Our school is His school, and I am so thankful for it.
1st grade celebrated Thanksgiving with their Thanksgiving Feast while 5th grade had their yearly Colonial Day. Great costumes, great food, great teachers, and great students!
A good word from pastor and author Paul David Tripp:
It’s the one biblical truth that no one believes. In fact, I would go as far as saying that it’s a street-level theological heresy that we’re comfortable to live with as Christians.
“It’s not my fault.”
If you ask the little girl why she hit her brother, she won’t tell you it was because of the sin that’s in her heart. No, she’ll say, “He was bothering me.”
If you ask the teenager why he came in to work so late, he won’t willingly take responsibility. No, he’ll tell you a long story of how there was an accident on the freeway, then a long train he had to wait for, then a water main break that flooded the street he normally drives on.
If you ask the father why he’s so angry all the time, he won’t tell you it’s because of the selfishness and impatience in his heart. No, he’ll blame his kids, or his wife, or his boss; they just make him so angry.
If you ask the single woman why she’s so moody and discontent, she won’t say it’s because of the jealousy and envy that resides in her heart. She’ll point to all the ways that life has been hard and how her friends don’t deserve the good things in life they’ve received.
If you ask the old man why he’s so grumpy and nasty with his words, he won’t tell you it’s because of the bitterness that has captured his heart for decades. No, he’ll talk about all the times in his life when he didn’t get what he knew he deserved.
Now, of course, life in a fallen world is hard. There are terribly evil and seemingly unfair things that happen to us, in little moments and in big. But, our biggest problem in life does not exist outside of us; it exists within.
Jesus devastated this self-atoning perspective on human behavior in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder’ […] But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment […] You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28)
Sin is a matter of the heart before it’s ever an issue of behavior. Sin is a matter of what lurks in us before it’s ever an issue of what happens to us. It’s the evil inside me that connects me to the evil outside me. So we must confess again today that we are our biggest and greatest problem in life.
You and I don’t so much need to be rescued from difficult people, tempting locations and stressful situations. No, we need to be rescued from ourselves. We can alter our circumstances, but we have no ability to purge ourselves from the destructive patterns of sin and selfishness that are in our hearts.
Today, even though life will be hard and people will press your buttons, don’t say, “It’s not my fault.” Instead, pray like David: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
Congratulations to the sophomores inducted into the Regents Academy chapter of the National Honor Society:
(left to right) Lindley Bryant, Isaiah Bertke, Grace DeKerlegand, Jake Hill, and Avery Griner.
“The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility” (Proverbs 15:33).