Teddy Roosevelt spoke these words in an address at the opening of his gubernatorial campaign for New York in 1898. He was a war hero, fresh from the Rough Riders’ Battle of San Juan Heights in Cuba during the war with Spain. Three years later, he would become president.
Our little church was just seven years old when Roosevelt was running for governor five states away.
I chose Roosevelt’s quote because it was appropriate for commemorating America’s fallen solders on Memorial Day but also because it reflects the greatness of our little renovation project, which demanded much effort, sacrifice and certainly courage.
Wishing you a blessed Memorial Day weekend that includes a moment to ponder the sacrifice of the soldiers who make it possible and the ways you can live up to such high ideals.
Our story so far: From Sunday school room tables to manger scenes, we gathered, sorted and gave away many of the items cluttering the interior of the old Methodist church we were demoing in order to turn into our dream home.
[I cannot claim authorship of today’s headline. It is a quote from Thomas Paine, an English-born political philosopher and author of “Common Sense,” the first pamphlet to advocate American independence.]
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Some things were simply too sacred to throw away indiscriminately. But they weren’t worth keeping either.
Like the flags. The American flag hanging on the flagpole when we took ownership was decrepit beyond salvage. That one and another we found were donated to the local American Legion post for proper retirement (i.e., burning). I also found a half-dozen desk flags that I donated to Goodwill. The United Methodist Church flag, we returned to the nearby congregation with whom the former members of our church had merged.
Then there were the hymnals. We found boxes of them, probably a few issued by every Methodist hymnal committee in a century.
I kept four of them with the intention of making a unique light fixture for a reading nook somewhere. The rest, I gave to Goodwill in hopes someone would find a creative use for them.
And the Bibles. We unearthed more than two dozen Bibles in various conditions from falling apart to pretty nice. I kept one in excellent condition, respectfully tossed two whose bindings were disintegrating and packed up twenty-six others. Those I shipped to Christian Library International. CLI’s mission is to advance Christ’s light in prisons by distributing Bibles and offering Bible study.