Thursday, February 12, 2009

someone you should know about

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was born in Brewer, Maine on September 8th, 1828. He was the oldest of five children. At the age of 20 he taught himself ancient Greek in order to pass his entrance exam to Bowdoin college. He became fluent in eight other languages as well: Latin, French, Spanish, Arabic, German, Hebrew, Italian and Syrian. After an additional three years in Bangor Theological Seminary he returned to a career in teaching at Bowdoin where he eventually taught every subject in the curriculum except science and mathematics.

In the summer of 1861, one year into the Civil War, he was enjoying a very promising, comfortable, blessed and rewarding life with his wife and children in Maine, a wealthy northern state whose soil was far away from the actual fighting. He had everything going for him, and plenty of sound reasons to remain in his safe academic and parental world. But he was dissatisfied. He had an aching desire to contribute to a cause he felt drawn to. It came down to a simple truth, alive within men of great destiny. He could not sit idly by while human beings were being denied their self-evident right to life and liberty. Not while he had the opportunity to do something about it. He submitted a request to enlist in the war but was denied by the university president. He then requested a sabbatical to study in Europe. When granted, instead of going to Europe he went directly to the enlistment office. He saw the battle before him, and he chose to reject apathetic complacency and went off to war.

He fought in many battles. Some he won and others he lost. He saw most of his men and many of his friends killed. He won many promotions and a chest full of medals. One day in particular in Pennsylvania he put a living definition on the word fortitude and just so happened to save the Union while doing so. Over the course of the war his body was shot and scarred and his many wounds plagued him with pain until the day he died, an old man in his bed in 1914 at the age 85. He had a long career before and after the Civil War, and many accomplishments worth reading about.

His name reflects a true and honorable example of what it means to stand firm and fight when it would be so much easier to sit it out or run away. He saw evil in the world and chose to engage it. He saw humans who were being denied the right to live, and their worth devalued to that of a commodity. Liberty was denied them by others who were too self-absorbed in their own comfort and ignorance to recognize the devastating result of their "personal" choices.

We live in such a world today. We have leaders in the highest levels of society and government who are on the wrong side of history. Generations will look back on us and the last 30 years and be unable to comprehend how we could tolerate the evil perpetrated against fellow human beings in the name of individual choice. Our grandchildren, or maybe, hopefully, our own children will look back on a long-gone era when abortion was prevalent and accepted and wonder how we could tolerate such unquestionable evil against our own children. How could we sit idly by when, like Chamberlain, we had the ability to do something about it?

Why would we name a little girl Chamberlain? So that our children would know there are some things that need to be fought for, and engage.

No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world, and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness.
-Frederick Douglas

1 comment:

Amanda Drietz said...

What a wonderful heritage you are creating for your children! I completely agree with everything your shared, thank you so much! I am the momma of five miracles from the Lord and just ache to think of the little lives being taken each day. May we turn our eyes back to our merciful God! Blessings to your family and especially that new little one! Mandy