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Martin Luther King Jr.’s enduring legacy: ‘Beyond Vietnam’

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Sometimes words remain appropriate, not only for the era in which they are spoken, but for multiple eras, and perhaps for the length of humanity’s struggle to overcome the worst aspects of our collective nature – greed, avarice, hypocrisy and the bondage of others to forward one’s own self interests – in other words, FOREVER.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of April 4, 1967 now known as the “Beyond Vietnam” speech are such words. They illustrate the depth of Dr. King’s comprehension that the Civil Rights Movement was a struggle of more than one race in one nation at one point in time.

These words, spoken exactly one year to the day before his assassination, are why some pause each January to remember and celebrate his life; while others are simply reminded of why he was, and continues to be hated by those attracted to power without compassion.

As the past three years when Royal Examiner has published these words on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in this first month of 2020 we might again ask ourselves if our ongoing borderless, worldwide war on terror isn’t at least in part, a legacy of our collective failure to heed Dr. King’s words of April 1967?

And 53 years down the road from this speech as Central American Hispanic refugees fleeing chaos and anarchy in their own nations are increasingly lumped together with international terrorists and drug dealers for partisan political advantage, we must again ask ourselves one final question – how close to the “too late” moment Dr. King described in 1967 are we as a people and a nation today?

– Due to the speech’s length, some introductory comments and other details on the Vietnam era have been edited out – deletions are indicated by (…) and some points have been emphasized with bold highlights.

There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. – Martin Luther King, Jr. (Photos/Public Domain)

Martin Luther King, Jr.
‘Beyond Vietnam’

I come to this great magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization that brought us together, Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” … The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one

…Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world … Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.

And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history … For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us …

“Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?” “Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,” they ask?

And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live …

Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program.

There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything on a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such …

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years, especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, “What about Vietnam?” They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted.

Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent …

Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read “Vietnam.” It can never be saved so long as it destroys the hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that “America will be” are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances.

But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men – for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

… Finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of son-ship and brotherhood. Because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula … They must see Americans as strange liberators … We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops … Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness … They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of new violence?

… At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved … and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now.

If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I speak as a child of God … I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote: “Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism.”

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit … and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about … Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God. In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution … It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin … the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.”

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them, is not just … America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood …

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. – Martin Luther King Jr.

We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice … It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries … A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional.

Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies … This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind … When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response … I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality … This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God”

…We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late … Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”

There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.” We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace … and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight … Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world …

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation comes a moment do decide,
In the strife of truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet ‘tis truth alone is strong
Though her portions be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

‘We’re not there yet’ – NAACP honors Dr. King’s memory with a call to continued commitment

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We hurt ourselves

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The new EDA Executive Director and the new EDA Board with its expertise and all the other residents of Front Royal were victimized by what one major player did with EDA funds. Why would the town take an adversarial stance toward the new EDA which is not at fault and refuse to make payments for our new police station when we are all ‘in the same boat’? These are people who came in to help resolve the issues and advance our economic development.

If we hurt the EDA instead through non-payment for the Front Royal police station, we hurt ourselves. Common sense dictates that we do not want the EDA to collapse. We would still have to pay the bills yet lack a way to increase revenue in the town with the help of the EDA.

Worse — the proposed town budget fired the professionals who had planned events that are now being canceled one after the other, leaving us without any avenues for economic development. Yet $200,000 has been transferred to the Town Attorney account to pay lawyers to argue in favor of making it harder on the EDA to survive, that is, the town will not compromise on the interest rate to be applied to the loan for the police station.

Sitting in the wrong account, Community Development, page 47 of the proposed budget, sits a $515,000 labeled police facility. It does not mean that we pay the EDA for the station. It is sitting there awaiting transfer as needed to the Town Attorney account for payment of high legal fees. (Information gained from a credible source.) The few in governance are allowing the expense up to $700,00 in order to have a court tell us what to do when we could decide in a cooperative manner for no cost beyond staff time. We all are going to pay in one way or another. It is cheaper to cooperate and split the difference in the interest on the loan rather than do what Council least likes to do, raise taxes.

It is disheartening that the town fights against its moral obligation. It is even harder to wonder and perhaps watch tax money ‘burn’ away because of one employee with a ‘group think’, alias Town Council.

Linda Allen
Front Royal, VA

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Thank you, Doug Stanley!

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I want to share my personal sentiments about our County Administrator, Mr. Doug Stanley.

Mr. Stanley is a personal friend. We have actively participated in countless projects for our community of Front Royal and Warren County over many years, together and with other devoted citizens. We have all been devoted to the betterment of everyone, in every instance.

Mr. Stanley has represented the Motto of Rotary International, “SERVICE ABOVE SELF”. He has instilled this ethic in every effort he has taken on. His example for young and old alike is to build character, leadership and be the person for others to follow.

He is the fall guy for the mistakes of many, yet he has moved forward and stayed the course for his position and target for success in Warren County.

As County Administrator, his accomplishments are beyond compare among his peers throughout our state of Virginia. This is only possible with a working environment of continuous commitment on his part. He and his staff are all talented individuals, devoted to their positions.

In recent times he has become the recipient of criticism. This local action has harmed our community very deeply. Many of the words of criticism have come from persons who intentionally tried to destroy his stellar reputation and care little about others here. Many people have been the instigators and gone so far as to threaten and publicly attack him. Many of these are also self-centered and have not served our community beyond their own self-fulfillment needs and wants. What an eye-opener this has become in learning about people. Loss of respect is a term well due upon such behavior in today’s civil society.

No one is a perfect person for all things. I certainly am not! Most of us try to simply survive. However, for those who reach out and above their own needs and share their successes, the field is open for service to others and all mankind. It is a pleasure to offer more than required.

Warren County has been blessed with Mr. Stanley and his devotion here.

My hope is that the Board of Supervisors may use their intelligence and the same devotion to our community that Mr. Stanley has and renew his contract.

Remember the open door created for anyone who makes charges against others. Their own track records may come to light for all to see and maybe very humiliating. Be prepared to accept such burdens if they exist.

Consider the sources of criticism for Mr. Stanley, the same people who can “simply move away if they don’t get rid of him”. Our community deserves better than this. Our elected officials need to perform their jobs and do what is prudent, proper for the best interest of ALL.

Thank you, Doug Stanley!

Respectfully Yours,
George McIntyre
Linden, VA

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Historical Impeachments

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historically speaking

Watching the Senate hearings over the past weeks I am happy to see historical arguments being made by both sides. As I have said, the Constitution is purposely vague, and it is no different when it comes to impeachment. There are three sections in the Constitution that discuss impeachment, but even with those sections there are still many questions. As with most Constitutional issues, the rest has been filled in with laws, the courts, and especially precedent. Several times both sides have referenced both the Andrew Johnson and William Clinton impeachment trials. In this vein, I think it is worth examining the lesser known of the two, the Johnson case, to see what we can learn from history and if there are similarities between the two.

There is a great deal of detail to explain Johnson’s election as V.P. Suffice to say, the Republicans in 1864 were concerned about Lincoln’s chances in the upcoming election. That may sound crazy, but he was not yet the super popular president that he would become. Johnson was a pro-war Democrat and Lincoln hoped that by bringing him on the ticket he could attract other pro-war Democrats. What made Johnson an even more interesting choice was that he was a pro-slave, state’s rights Democrat from Tennessee. Johnson was brought in for votes only. Once in office, Lincoln did not use him and he by no means was meant to ever be president.

The issue with Johnson’s impeachment revolves around Reconstruction. Even before the end of the War, Lincoln was already discussing his plans for how to treat the South. He basically wanted to make it easy for the southern states to return, including keeping their existing governments. His biggest opposition to Reconstruction was the radical wing of his own party. The so-called Radical Republicans wanted to punish the South and make it difficult for their return. They wanted to remove all past leaders and guarantee certain rights for the new freedman population

The Radicals were originally excited about Johnson as president. He said and did all the right things. However, when Congress left for recess, he put in his own plans for Reconstruction that were just as lenient as Lincoln’s, maybe even more so. When Congress returned, they attempted to retake the power. They tried to pass laws to help the ex-slaves but were blocked by Johnson’s vetoes. The Radicals did have enough support to overturn Johnson’s veto on the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave freedmen citizenship, but they faced an uphill battle. It was at this point they began looking for reasons to impeach the president. They tried twice unsuccessfully before they found a reason that stuck.

In 1867 Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, which basically said that the president could not fire any member of his own cabinet without congressional approval. This was done for two reasons. First, Congress was afraid that Johnson would start replacing Lincoln’s Republican Cabinet with a Democratic one. Secondly, they hoped this would trip up Johnson and give them a reason to impeach. The plan worked. Johnson, who had been fighting with his Secretary of War Edwin Stanton over keeping troops in the South, finally grew frustrated and fired him. Johnson did not think the Tenure of Office Act would hold up in court. He was right. But before the courts examined the case, the House acted first and charged Johnson with eleven counts of impeachment.

The eleven articles are incredibly repetitive. They all boil down to Johnson having broken his oath of office by firing Stanton and by hiring Lorenzo Thomas without consent of Congress. They basically said it in different ways, like he violated Stanton’s rights in one and conspired with Thomas against Stanton in another. In Article 10 Congress went as far as including that he criticized congress “with a loud voice, certain intemperate, inflammatory, and scandalous harangues.”

The trial lasted for three months. The defense argued that Johnson had done nothing wrong. They claimed he was challenging an unconstitutional law and basically his act did not meet the demands of a High Crime. What seemed like a slam dunk win at first fell apart by the end. From the beginning of the trial, Johnson worked with moderate Republicans to save his position by promising not to interfere any more with Reconstruction. Also, the managers had a week case. It became apparent the entire reason for the law was to remove the President. His only real crime was disagreeing with Congress.

In the end, seven Republicans voted to acquit. For some congressmen they were more concerned with the man who would replace Johnson, whom they saw as even more difficult. For others, when it really came down to it, they did not want to remove the President based on a power struggle. It would create a dangerous precedent that they did not want and could hurt the balance of power. When they received their assurances from Johnson, the Republicans were more than happy to leave him in office until the next year when they could replace him through voting. One senator said after, “I cannot agree to destroy the harmonious working of the Constitution for the sake of getting rid of an Unacceptable President.”

What is interesting about today’s impeachment is many will see similarities with Johnson’s trial and many will not. Supporters of Trump will see two presidents who disagreed with a hostile Congress which simply wanted the president removed for political reasons. Others will disagree with any similarities. More like the Nixon scandal, they see a president who clearly overstepped his authority and then tried to cover it up. The problem is this split happens to be along party lines, which is very much like the Johnson impeachment. With Johnson, Republicans had to cross the party line to clear him, whereas with Trump they had to cross party lines to convict. But either way the vast majority of the Senate in all three presidential impeachments trials voted along party lines instead of voting their consciences. So, what we can learn from studying Johnson is that in the end what we see is that impeachments are political above everything else.

For my Texas readers, if any of you are interested I will be speaking at the Weatherford College Interdisciplinary Academic Conference on Feb 27 at 5 PM. The conference is free and open to the public. For more information, you can call 817-598-6326. If you attend, make sure you come by and say hello.


Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.

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Jesus in Valentine’s Day

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Dear Editor,

Valentine’s Day is now upon us, and of course, the central theme is Love. It is the showing of one’s love for someone and being desirous of and asking for another to return such love in a way to say “I love you too”. A proposal, if you will. In this regard, (which involves a suitor) the dictionary defines such as; a man who courts a woman; a wooer. It further defines a wooer as: to seek the love or affection of, especially to marry; to court.

In this respect, allow me to present to you my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. For the greatest act and show of love the world has ever known, let me direct your attention to the figure there on Calvary’s brow: I can only humbly say, behold Him there! For I am not worthy so much as to even approach Him. As you gaze upon him you will see that he is hanging from a cross by nails driven into his hands and feet. He is covered and “bathed” in his own blood, for as the Scriptures say, “…his visage was so marred more than any man”. The result of a savage, brutal, and one might venture to say, demonic beating.

He wasn’t there merely by chance, but because mankind was under the curse of God’s law which says; ” the soul that sinneth shall die.” His agony was so great, that he cried out; “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And thus, being made to be sin for us, He took our sin upon Himself! And now hear the prophecies as detailed in Psalms 22, “…I am a worm and no man …despised of the people …I am poured out like water …and all my bones are out of joint …my heart is like wax …my tongue cleaves to my jaw …am brought down to the dust of death.”

His being there was the fulfillment of his intent and determination to die in our place! This was the price that God himself set for our redemption: God himself had to die; God himself had to shed his very own blood! By saying, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me,” He is doing exactly that on the cross. He is drawing us, asking us, “to come unto me.” Yes, and by asking the Father to, “forgive them for they know not what they do”, He is throwing the door wide open for us while tugging at our hearts. And, one could almost hear him say “Be Mine”.

Be mine and your sin will be forgiven and no longer under the curse; I am reminded of the prophet who said, “though your sins be as scarlet ye shall be white as snow. Be mine for I am going to prepare a dwelling place for you. Be mine and you will never die, for my special gift to you is eternal life; and you will never thirst or hunger, for I will give you both the bread of life and the water of life.”

But what could be the proper response to such a suitor and his appeal or proposal? To learn of the best, and indeed, the only accepted response (a simple I will) we need only to look again at Calvary’s brow and hear the thief on a cross next to our Saviour when he says; “Master, remember me when you cometh into your kingdom.”

In saying “Be Mine”, “come unto me”, and “Whosoever believeth in me shall never die”, isn’t he asking us to consider and look expectantly upon the eternal, heavenly scene. We have the ‘picture’ of a people for whom a pure, white, shining garment has been prepared. And as we stand so arrayed before the very throne of God our hearts are suddenly filled with an overwhelming measure of love, and our eyes are filled with great tears of joy; for we are now aware that He is present! The Lamb of God Himself has stepped forth from the midst of the throne. And, performing the acts and duty as our Groom, places a wedding ring on our fingers; and then presents us to all the holy, righteous hosts of Heaven as his greatly beloved, glorious, precious Bride! The Church! And all the host of Heaven bow down; reverently, lovingly, and adoringly as kings cast their crowns down before Him!

And so, indeed, as the Lord said on the cross, “It Is Finished!” Thus, the message of God written indelibly throughout space and time by his own blood is there for all to see: I love you! Love has conquered!

Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, VA

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OPINION: A new low in Front Royal politics

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Wow – hard to explain the new low in Front Royal politics. One only need review the video of Monday night’s Town Council Working Session to witness true unprofessionalism at its best (or worse depending on how you look at it). The Town of Front Royal deserves so much more, and the Town Council should hang their collective heads in shame.

I should be disappointed in myself for not believing this group of elected thugs, and a hand-picked failure of a Town Manager, could take us even deeper into governmental despair. Shame on me for having faith.

Let’s look at this. It included an extremely large, standing room only crowd of concerned citizens of Front Royal, a surprisingly still ill-prepared Interim Town Manager who demonstrated without any doubt that he knows little about leadership or how to manage staff, and a truly unprofessional Town Council.

One could see on Mr. Tederick’s face from the onset of the meeting that he was extremely nervous and likely had not slept for a couple nights. Tough to sleep soundly when you know the gallows await and you know your story can not stand up to any real questioning.

As I said in my most recent article, the Town Council had found their stooge in Mr. Tederick; but while letting him do their dirty work and now rush through its rationale, the impulse not to lose center stage in front of so large an audience was too great to resist.

Mr. Meza should be nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a man interested in what was best for the citizens of Front Royal and his self-imposed look of regal importance of learning at the feet of his mentor Mr. Tederick.

Jacob Meza, left, at Monday’s heavily attended Front Royal Town Council Work Session discussion of an apparently council-endorsed budget plan eliminating some crucial Town staff and departmental functions to reduce town government operational costs. Letasha Thompson listens at right. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

Give a supporting Oscar to Mr. Holloway for his portrayal of an insane middle-aged man. Remember the movie “The Shining” starring Jack Nicholson and the famous phrase – “Here’s Johnny” – or in this case “Here’s Crazy Chris”? Rather than act like a mature adult, Mr. Holloway decided to reduce council’s debate with its mayor to the level of a developing school-yard brawl. – “That’s a downright lie” may not be the proper response to the mayor’s assertion he had only heard of the budget/staff termination plan the previous week. Of course, little Jacob Meza had set the table for Crazy Chris with his accusation that Mayor Tewalt was “playing to the large crowd” by expressing opposition to their and Mr. Tederick’s preferred course of outsourcing now-cut staff functions, apparently that outsourcing largely taking place around July 1 when the new fiscal year begins.

How do these men find new ways to show how unimpressive they really are? Well, that could apply to most of the Council. Are you listening Ms. Thompson, Ms. Cockrell, Mr. Sealock and Mr. Gillespie?

First let’s cover the citizens of Front Royal. It was evident from the start these individuals wanted to voice their concerns while at the same time listen to the “potential” words of wisdom from the Interim Town Manager and Town Council who had created this situation. I will have to admit, within reason, they were well behaved.

Only during the above-referenced school-yard brawl with their mayor and the section when Mr. Tederick started to show his apparent lack of understanding of tourism and his explanation of why he let people go prior to his recommendations being approved and implemented – allegedly due to compassion – did the audience let out a few catcalls, etc. Overall, they appeared to, perhaps surprisingly, hold themselves in check.

As a crowd reaching about 50 gathers, council and staff chat prior to meeting/work session’s convening.

They were without a doubt more adult than several members of the Town Council who should apologize to the citizens for their bad behavior. Only once did the Mayor have to remind the onlookers that they need to respect those at the table. Too bad, he did not remind the Council members that they also need to show respect to all those at the table.

Mr. Tederick’s words on “Compassion” for those he had removed, followed by noting that if Council disagreed with his recommendations those same individuals could reapply for their jobs, rang so hollow. What 5th grade class on leadership did Mr. Tederick learn this skill from? Never in my career have I heard such bad judgement on hiring or firing. If this was supported by any decent attorney, I would have to say they never managed a staff as well.

I had to think, not long, on why someone in the position of Mr. Tederick could think this made any sense. It then dawned on me. It is apparent, he has never really managed a large, multi-departmental staff, and the rest of his career has been on managing financial portfolios and not leading people. Rather simple, he does not think as a leader or a manager. He only thinks of money. The same can be said for Chris “You’re the liar” Holloway and Jacob “The Lessor” Meza.

Reapply for their jobs? The only reapplying for jobs will be with these same Council members asking town citizens to re-elect them in coming elections, the first less nine months away.
I also started to think about what real revenue comes into this County and Front Royal. A fact that Mr. Tederick did not really cover. We could assume, tourism is a major factor. So, I decided to do my research. It did not take long to find the following website: Vatc.org and click on top right research tab.

Unlike every other chart Matt displayed, this is the only one that shows growth every year. Amazing that the only thing that shows steady growth is the one he condemns and suggests it be giving to a privately held company that perhaps magically showed up in his office the day after he announced the removal of the Tourism Director. Something like the Attorney Bro’s we now have working in Town Hall and their relationship with his 1839 Capitol adventure.

Also, his statement of doing a one-year contract makes absolutely no sense. One with any management background would realize that this position requires stability in dealing with the various organizations that comprise the tourism landscape. But Mr. Tederick, this DOES NOT grant you permission to now issue a five-year contract to any friends who have appeared like a gift from heaven at your doorstep.

Chris Holloway, left, and Matt Tederick take break with colleagues prior to closed session being convened at end of Monday’s quickly adjourned special meeting and budget work session.

One last comment before I put away my keyboard for the night. I am not certain what was said behind closed doors by the Mayor regarding tourism and what actions should be taken. However, one with any decorum – for Mr. Holloway that means: behavior in keeping with good taste and propriety – if so compelled, would have called Mr. Tewalt a liar behind closed doors and not in front of the citizens they represent.

Never lower yourself to prove a point.

Poor play of the week goes to Mr. Holloway, with an assist to Mr. Meza. I would not be surprise if he has won that award before on several occasions. I would expect, but we will not get, a public apology from him for his unprofessionalism. Apparently building housing units does not require such skills.

I can only hope this council, at least the other four members, hear the citizens of this town.

Simon Mays
Front Royal

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Opinion

OPINION: Matt ‘The Hack’ Tederick and the rest of the Town Circus Act

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I know, it has been several weeks since my last article. I was hoping that providing Front Royal senior staff (notice I did not say leadership) time to get their act together would suffice.

Sadly, I was mistaken. Matt “The Hack” Tederick and the rest of the circus act, “The Town Clowns” (sorry I meant Council) continue to display such poor judgement it can only be assumed they do not have the capacity to modify their behavior and act like people who work FOR the people of Front Royal, and not just in their own self-interest or because they are just ill prepared for this job.

It was well understood by all, to include the previous Interim Mayor (Tederick) and the Town Council, that Joe Waltz left because he could no longer fend off their absurd demands — although they praised him in front of folks when he left which was sad to watch. Joe was a decent man that refused to do things he did not believe in or take actions he could not honestly defend.

In addition, it was also well understood as soon as Matt Tederick took over as Acting Town Manager that specific heads would roll. Remember the Town Council selected an individual that admitted to the Royal Examiner that he had no experience for the job – it shows every day. Many knew who was at the top of his hit list and saw that played out this past week.

It was like a circus car, one clown out the door and many more to follow – and I am talking about Matt and the Council who blindly follow him, not the people who lost their jobs who were just good honest hardworking folks per Matt Tederick’s statement to the Royal Examiner on 29 Jan 2020.

Who is driving this car?!? Public Domain Photo

Now we see Mr. Tederick in front of the citizens attempting to respond but extremely ill prepared. Where are his henchmen that successfully supported him, allowed him or just forced him to take these actions? It appears they (the Council) have gone underground. Why not let Matt fend for himself as he was willing to be their hatchet man – they found their fool so let him take the heat. It would be nicer if they never reappeared. Don’t just fool yourself into thinking this was all Matt’s work alone.

Let’s now look at the situation we find ourselves in: Four positions empty, no budget plan yet presented to the people and our elected officials continuing to prey on the fine citizens of Front Royal.

It was evident that Mr. Tederick is ill prepared to provide any adequate response. If no real plan has been approved or even well thought out, just say that. He admitted in one session late last week that he did not know where tourism responsibilities would ultimately land. One should quickly ask why remove staff members that have performed well for the citizens when no plan is in place to take those responsibilities over. This was well documented in yesterday’s (Feb 2, 2020) Royal Examiner’s article entitled “Many Questions, few clear answers on Town reorganization plan.”

The citizens should be upset and rightfully demand a response that provides real answers and not just political jargon. These officials work for us and not themselves – or IS it the other way around? It is real simple to understand: if you take action, be able to answer the simple question, “Why?”

If not, please exit stage left – I will open the door.

Matt Tederick on the job as interim mayor last June, his first council appointment which led to his second appointment as interim town manager in the wake of the October resignation of Joe Waltz, which became effective Nov. 8; and now there is this … Royal Examiner File Photo

If the article in the Royal Examiner of Jan 31, 2020 entitled “Letter to Major and Town Council” by several local business leaders is half-true, and there is no reason to believe it is not all true, concerning Felicia Hart’s accomplishments then she likely has brought more business to the area and made more coherent decisions than the council combined – and add in their Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick for good measure – as those business people apparently know Hart and her work well, I will take their word over Matt and the Town Council’s as to her value.

We may want to consider removing the members of the Town Council and put Ms. Hart back in her previous position or just let her take over Town Council responsibilities. I am sure that it could be said for Jeremy Camp as well. We could possibly save money if that is what Matt is concerned about. Most of these Council members come ill prepared to even discuss the simplest of town activities or able to think on their feet, so why not switch up?

It is possible that Mr. Tederick just misspoke about not knowing how things would fall out, remember when he misspoke and said, “slush fund” – Oops. Or other such business examples which I touched on previously.

Again, Jacob “The Lessor” Meza continues to amaze us all by defending Mr. Tederick and whining about how town people question him and the members of the council.

Jacob Meza proclaimed he and his council colleagues were ‘not crooks’ following public criticism of council actions last fall – but who said they were?

Jacob, it’s easy to remedy – leave the council or accept criticism like any adult in an elected position. As I have said before in my articles, it comes with the territory. If I were you, I would give it up – as you don’t have it in you to lead. I call him “Jacob the Lessor” because every time he speaks, less meaning words flow from his lips. But he can ramble on … and on … and on …

Sorry, just practicing my impression of Mr. Meza.

Not sure what the citizens of this town can do to stop this madness. Can the citizens of Front Royal start a petition to replace existing Town Council members – something for our Town Attorney to answer. It appears the Town Manager and elected officials are just not willing to listen to the people who elected them. I believe elections are this fall – Remember that, citizens.

Simon Mays
Front Royal, Virginia

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