Denison Forum – July 4 terror plot thwarted in Cleveland

FBI officials announced yesterday that they prevented a terror attack planned for July 4 in Cleveland. Demetrius Pitts, also known as Abdur Raheem Rahfeeq, was arrested Sunday morning by the joint terrorism task force.

An FBI undercover agent began meeting with Pitts after he went on social media to express hatred of the US and allegiance to al Qaeda. The agent developed a relationship with the would-be terrorist, who told him of his plans to plant a bomb at a Fourth of July parade.

In other news, Trooper Nicholas Clark was among the responders to a 911 call early Monday morning in Erwin, New York. He was shot and killed. Trooper Clark was twenty-nine years old and is survived by his parents and a brother.

The unnamed FBI agent and Trooper Clark are just two of many Americans willing to risk their lives for their fellow Americans.

Why the Battle of Gettysburg was fought

The Battle of Gettysburg ended on July 3, 1863. It is typically considered the most important engagement of the American Civil War. Why did this critical battle begin when and where it did?

The History News Network answers our question: it was because of a shoe.

The “Brogan” was the standard issue soldiers’ shoe during the war. It was made of two pieces of leather stitched together to a wooden sole with four eyelets and a cowhide lace. It was typically made straight last, meaning that the left and right shoes were identical.

As uncomfortable as these shoes were, they were essential to a soldier’s survival. A soldier with shoes had a significant advantage over his barefoot enemy. And the weather and outdoor conditions on which soldiers marched and fought made footwear essential.

On June 30, 1863, responding to rumors of a Brogan-filled warehouse in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Confederate Major General Henry Heth ordered Brigadier General James Johnston Pettigrew to “take his brigade to Gettysburg, search the town for army supplies (shoes especially), and return the same day.”

Things did not go as planned.

Pettigrew’s Tar Heels of North Carolina, headed toward Gettysburg, found John Buford’s Union cavalry. Pettigrew withdrew and reported what he had seen. Heth was more concerned with obtaining shoes than with the Federal cavalry Pettigrew encountered. Together, they went to their commander, Gen. A. P. Hill.

Hill surmised that Pettigrew had met what was “probably a detachment of observation” rather than a formidable fighting force. He ordered Pettigrew’s men to return to Gettysburg.

They and their fellow soldiers met the Iron Brigade, one of the North’s fiercest fighting units. Armed with Spencer carbines that could fire five rounds in the time it took a Confederate soldier to get off a single shot, they waged what became the largest battle ever fought on America soil. The conflict ended in a decisive defeat for the South.

“We must, indeed, all hang together”

I was privileged to visit Gettysburg a few years ago on a tour led by a West Point military historian. As he described the bloodiest three days in our nation’s history, I was awed by the courage of those who fought on both sides of this tragic conflict.

Such courage was manifested on the same week, nearly ninety years earlier, as delegates to the Second Continental Congress voted to declare America an independent nation.

Benjamin Franklin famously warned his fellow conspirators against the Crown, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall hang separately.” Four of the signers were taken captive during the conflict; nearly all of them were poorer at the end of the war than at its beginning. Had America lost, they would all have been traitors to the Empire.

Nonetheless, the Declaration of Independence they adopted on July 4 closes: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Why we are “the land of the free”

Our national anthem ends by describing America as “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” We are the land of the free because we are the home of the brave.

Now it’s our turn to honor such courage with our commitment to what matters most.

Of all Christians can do to serve this nation whose birth we celebrate this week, our greatest gift is the truth that has changed our lives. Imagine the impact on our country if our leaders made decisions based on biblical wisdom. Imagine the impact if our people lived by biblical morality.

Imagine the transformation if every Christian paid the price to live by God’s word and use our influence for God’s glory.

When the apostles were arrested for preaching the gospel, the authorities “saw the boldness of Peter and John” (Acts 4:13). After the two were released, they reported their persecution to their fellow Christians.

Rather than retreat in fear, the first believers prayed, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” (v. 29). After their prayer, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (v. 31).

Will you make their prayer yours today?

 

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