The Beacon


ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO -- "On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918 the Armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany. It was thought and hoped at the time that this was the "War To End All Wars". (Twenty years later on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland!!!)

"THEY SAVED THE WORLD FOR DEMOCRACY!" STEPHEN AMBROSE -- In 1998 our son-in-law Rob Lihani, a documentarian, was commissioned by the American Rivers Foundation to interview Stephen Ambrose for their annual fundraiser. Ambrose was a natural because of the 1996 release of his hugely successful "Undaunted Courage" chronicling the voyage of Lewis and Clark. Since the Ambrose family spent its summers in Helena, MT, it was agreed that the interview would take place in the Gates of the Mountain on the Missouri River.

    Rob invited me along in part to serve as a 'gopher', and my main assignment was to hold up a reflector during the filming of the interview. Ambrose's assignment was to discuss how important it is to remove dams from the nation's rivers, and he was steaming along with his monologue when all of a sudden he raised the following question:

    "Do you know who should be named the 'Man of the Century'? The American GI, the 18 year old, who without questioning stepped into the water at Omaha Beach on June 6 knowing full well that he probably would not make it to the beach. This 18 year old and thousands like him SAVED THE WORLD FOR DEMOCRACY! He is the "Man of the Century!"

MUST VIEWING TO APPRECIATE STEPHEN AMBROSE'S MESSAGE AND THE IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS OF OUR OWN GENERAL GEORGE PATTON -- To better understand why Stephen Ambrose believed so strongly in what he stated on the Missouri River in 1998, you must view the following movies, in this order:

    The OPENING 27 minutes of "SAVING PRIVATE RYAN" -- This depicts the invasion of Omaha Beach. Steven Spielberg graphically captured the terror of D-Day and what the 18 year old GIs faced when they stepped out of the Higgins Landing Crafts. 

    "THE BAND OF BROTHERS" -- This ten episode miniseries was based on Stephen Ambrose's book released in 1992 and produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. If you watch the miniseries in its entirety, you can not help but be moved by the sacrifices made by these American young men. It is my opinion that every American in 2018 should view this documentary in order to understand what it takes to defend democracy.

    For the record, the first showing was on Sunday, September 9. The ratings were good, but unfortunately two days later was 9/11; and obviously Americans did not have much of an interest or stomach for the content of the following nine episodes. As a result, the viewing audience dwindled week after week, and the last episode was half that of the first night. 

    "PATTON" -- There is a COS connection in this movie. Early on, General Patton's aide-de-camp and two others are killed in an air raid near El Guettar in the North African Campaign. The aide's name was Major Richard Norman "Dick" Jenson, he was 27 and he was from South Pasadena where he graduated from high school. As reported in Time Magazine: "Captain (promoted to Major posthumously) Jenson had volunteered to go to the front as an additional officer in our tank force on the Gabes road. When the Stukas came over this morning, he was standing only a few feet from one of our generals (Omar Bradley). Both dived into slit trenches. A heavy bomb landed almost at the edge of the one in which Jenson lay. He was killed instantly." Later, Patton wrote in his diary "He was a fine young man and officer. He had no vices. I can't see the reason that such a fine young man got killed. I shall miss him."

    How much did he miss him? Enough to have a plaque commissioned in Jenson's memory AND installed on the back wall of THE Church of Our Saviour behind the Audio Station. It is still there.

IT'S ABOUT TIME: AS COS BEGINS ITS SECOND 150 YEARS, IT IS TIME TO RECLAIM AND PROCLAIM GENERAL GEORGE PATTON AS ONE OF OURS!!! -- We're not big fans of WAR. In fact, we re-registered as "choose not to designate" in 2003 after the Invasion of Iraq. HOWEVER, we do subscribe to Steven Ambrose's statement about the sacrifice the American GI made on June 6, 1944. Given this position, it is impossible not to recognize that one of the great Allied leaders of these GIs was General George Patton. His victories over Erwin Rommel in North Africa and the role his tank corp played in the liberation of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge and subsequent battles in Germany are legendary. In fact, depending on how you google his name, you will find many, many articles chronicling his amazing military career, INCLUDING references to his and his family's relationship to THE Church of Our Saviour.

    That said, as we approach the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day, General George stands forlornly by himself over on the western border of the COS property. Sometimes, there are American flags in place, and sometimes it appears that some attention has been given to sprucing up his area. However, for most of time when visitors come on campus to visit his statue and view the stained glass windows associated with him and his family, we believe the impression is that this American War Hero, this "savior of democracy", this church member, is pretty much ignored.

    We believe we need to do better for this man, and we need to proudly proclaim the Pattons as foundational members of this historically important faith based institution in the West San Gabriel Valley.   

WE HOPE YOU HONORED GENERATIONS OF AMERICAN VETERANS BY VOTING -- For the last 100 years the United States has sent young men and women around the world to fight for democracy -- WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, hundreds of thousands of troops are currently stationed overseas, ostensibly to protect and advance the rights of the citizens of the host countries.

    Given this stated passion to "save the world for democracy", one would expect that the easiest place in world to vote would be in the United States. Ironically, this was not the case everywhere in this country on November 6. If you dispute this, ask the people of color in Georgia; ask the African American students at Prairie View A & M; ask the Native Americans in North Dakota! One wonders what Stephen Ambrose would say about voter suppression.