Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Vigilance, Courage and Perseverance

Growing up in Beaufort, SC some of my best memories were made on the beach. Mostly they were on Hunting Island. Hunting Island is one of the most aesthetically pleasing places I have ever seen. It's physical beauty, in my opinion, is second to none. The rolling waves coolly compliment the lush green trees that surround the beachhead. 

(Added by Mom: Want to see an amazing video about HUNTING ISLAND created by Tyler's 1st grade teacher's husband, David Lavery?  CLICK HERE: HUNTING ISLAND Video by David Lavery)

As one feels the warm sand between their toes it might be easy to forget that within it's beauty, the beach is full of danger. When you think of the danger that a beach might hold, you will probably think of "Jaws" or a huge sea creature of some sort brushing past your legs in the water, right before it comes up and swallows you whole. However the most dangerous thing at the beach is something much more subtle. It's called a rip current -  better known as a riptide. Rip currents can be killers. The United States Lifesaving Association estimates that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation's beaches exceeds 100. Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards. 

 The thing that makes rip currents so dangerous isn't overwhelming brute force or an "all of a sudden" crash. When someone drowns in a rip current usually what happens is something like this - a young swimmer is enjoying themselves in the warm summer water. They see that they tide has pulled them out a little farther..they are a confident swimmer so they continue to enjoy themselves. As they swim around they don't realize that the current is continuing to pull them out farther and farther. Once the swimmer realizes how far they are out they will start to panic and try to swim back to shore. What they don't realize is how strong the current really is. Although you can't see it, the current is more powerful than the toughest swimmer! Normally the current will tire the swimmer so much that due to fatigue he or she will drown. 

Sometimes life can be like the beach. The world is full of beautiful faces and places. However, it is definitely a dangerous place. Sometimes when people lose control of their life, it comes from a huge monumental event. More often than not however - it comes from poisoning in degrees. A little lowering the standards here and a little bending the rules there. As the current takes us out farther and farther we think nothing of it at first. But by the time home is so far away we can barely see it, it can be too late for many of us on our own. The #1 thing we can do to prevent this catastrophe is to be constantly vigilant. One of my favorite stories of Vigilance was a story that John McCain told when he was running for president in 2008. It is called the Mike Christian Story.  - 
Mike Christian
"The Vietnam War . . . 1971, prisoners of war were moved from isolation into large rooms at the Hanoi Hilton. One of those prisoners was Mike Christian. Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't wear a pair of shoes until he was thirteen. At seventeen he enlisted in the Navy, later to earn a commission and become a Naval flying officer, and was shot down and captured in 1967.

The uniforms the Americans wore were the Vietnamese pajamas, only they were blue, and rubber sandals made of automobile tires.

Mike contrived a bamboo needle for himself and collecting some cloth of red and white, he sewed an American Flag on the inside of his shirt. And it was the practice of the prisoners that every afternoon before they got their ration of soup, they would hang Mike's shirt on the wall and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, repeating the Pledge of Allegiance may not be the most i
mportant part of the average American day, but for those men in that stark prison cell, it was the most important and meaningful event of their day.

One day, the Vietnamese searched the cell and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, removed it and him, and for the "benefit" of the other prisoners beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple hours. 

Then they opened the door and threw him back inside. Mike was not in good shape and the others tried to comfort and take care of him as best they could.

The cell had a concrete slab on which the men slept and a naked light bulb in each corner of the room. After things had quieted down for the evening, in the corner of the room, sitting beneath that dimly lit bulb with a piece of white cloth, a piece of red cloth, another blue shirt and his bamboo needle, was Mike Christian. His eyes almost swollen shut from the beating, he was fashioning another American flag."

Special Baptism Day
What better example of vigilance can we have than this amazing story of courage and perseverance. Mike knew how important it was for him and his fellow prisoners to have that flag so he continually chose what he knew was right. 

We can learn from Mike's example and be constantly vigilant in our personal struggles every day. Although the battles may be small - a journey  of a thousand miles begins with one simple step. 

- Elder Clancy 
Rugby with my homies on P-Day
Look at the Skyline!
Perfect Message!
Garrett E. and I
1 pound Snickers - WOW!

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