The POW Father

I recently had the opportunity to visit the National Prisoner of War Museum in Andersonville Georgia, along with my wife and my youngest son.  It was a stifling day with the sun bearing down on the Georgia clay and temperatures exceeding the century mark.

 

I thanked Almighty God when we entered the museum building and came under the influence of the air conditioning.  Being a veteran, I was anxious to see how the plight of our POW’s from all wars was portrayed.  Would their interment be downplayed and given a quick painting with the brush of those who oppose war in any form and reject anyone who has anything to do with it, or would it be splashed with red, white, and blue and described as a group of great patriots.

 

Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to observe. 

 

Men and some women, who set off to defend their country, to preserve freedom for those of us who, all too often, take freedom for granted were subject to the worst that humanity could throw at them.  Thirty two thousand, yes 32,000, men held in a 26.5 acre stockade, with no shelter, limited water, no sanitation facilities, and clothing so scarce the dead bodies of  the approximately 13,000 that died were stripped before burial to provide for the living. And this was in the United States!

 

Andersonville Prison (Camp Sumter)

Camp Sumter, commonly called Andersonville, was one of the largest military prisons established by the Confederacy during the Civil War. In existence for 14 months, over 45,000 Union soldiers were confined at the prison. Of these, almost 13,000 died from disease, poor sanitation, malnutrition, overcrowding, and exposure to the elements. The largest number held in the 26½-acre stockade at any one time was more than 32,000, during August of 1864. Today the beauty of the prison site belies the suffering that once took place inside the stockade. (United States Park Service, Department of the Interior; http://www.nps.gov/ande/)

 

Andersonville prison was just one of the tragic examples of abuse.  If you live in the North, don’t think you treated Confederate POW’s any better.  Study the accounts of Camp Douglas, in the Chicago area, and Elmira Prison, Elmira New York.

 

The point being, left to our own devises, we as a human race can act no better than any other animal on this earth.  What sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is our creation in the image of God.  When we don’t recognize that unique relationship, we revert to the influence of the evil of this world.

 

Malachi 4:6 tells us; “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

 

In the Civil War, fathers fought against sons and brother against brother.  Evil rained in the United States of America at this time.

 

I don’t want to minimize the hardships and atrocities POW’s of other wars faced as there were many.  What I want to point out is this is a country founded upon the belief in a God of love. Yet evil still found a way to reign in the midst of this country’s greatest struggle.

 

We as fathers today face many struggles.  We are not different than the fathers of the Civil War era.  We love and we sometimes hate and in the midst of our hate, we open the door for the same evil that permeated the walls of our own POW prisons, to rule in our lives.

 

Guard your hearts, my dear, fathers.  Always keep love on the point of your spear.  That way when you find yourself in that moment of anger, perhaps love will clear your vision and you will address the situation in a better way.

 

Don’t be a prisoner of the spiritual war we fight every day.  If you are taken captive there is much damage that can be done in a very little time.  Rule your heart with love and exercise your authority in justice and in truth marinated in the blood or a God who loves you more than anything in creation.

 

En servicio como padre

Dave

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