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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 two years when Royal Examiner has published these words on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in this first month of 2019 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 52 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.

Opinion

OPNION: Layton has ethics and experience

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When we heard that Bryan Layton was running for Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney we felt compelled to speak.

Bryan Layton is honest, ethical and very hard working. He is committed to seeing justice done and doesn’t play games with the criminal justice system. If someone is guilty he will work hard to make sure that they are appropriately punished. However, Bryan will work equally hard to make sure that an innocent person is not convicted unjustly.

Prosecutors wield a great deal of power in Virginia. This is the reality of the system. With a piece of paper they can have a person arrested and held in jail. This is one of many reasons why Bryan Layton is one of the best prosecutors we have seen, in both skill and ethics. He has shown us repeatedly that he wields power justly.

Those of us who have both worked with Bryan Layton and fought against him in court know him as the right kind of lawyer for Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney. He is tough and fair, and has the experience to do the job well.

William A. “Beau” Bassler

David L. Hensley

Nicole M. Spicer

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Opinion

OPINION: Indifference Is No Answer

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For better or maybe for worse, the Mueller Report is now out.

Regardless of an individual citizen’s point of view, there is data within this Report that cannot be ignored.
Years ago when I was practicing law (in Connecticut before moving to Virginia ), my job was to make people (jurors or judges ) believe my client’s point of view. If it was a civil case, I had to make them accept my position “by a preponderance of the evidence.” If a criminal case, my challenge as counsel was to protect my client from a finding of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”. This was a fact-based system with a “search for truth”.

After I moved to Virginia in 1988, I had given up lawyering and became a mediator and trainer. No longer was I advocating for “the Truth” of a matter; rather I was advocating for “Resolution” of differences. I was a neutral, not an advocate. I even wrote a well-received little book called “Ironing It Out: Seven Simple Steps for Resolving Conflict.” I also spent several years as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Shenandoah University in Winchester. While there, I taught courses in Conflict Resolution, American Politics and the Presidency. Since then, I fashion myself as an amateur “expert” in Presidential History.

August 18, 2019 was an historical day in both American Political History and in the history of the institution we have come to acknowledge and appreciate – called “the American Presidency.”

I said earlier that now I was interested in finding Resolution as opposed to establishing the Truth, but that does not mean that facts don’t count. We know that a number of Presidents got themselves or their administration in trouble because they discounted the facts of the situation. This has led to several scandals (almost every Presidential administration has had at least one), censure, impeachment or resignation (only once so far).

Which brings me back to the present. .. There are those who fervently support President Trump. They may not like his “style’, but they like what his administration has done or hopes to do. On the other hand, there are those who cannot stand him or what the Presidency has become. I tell people who ask me, from both sides, what will happen. I always give the same answer I gave years ago during the Nixon Watergate years, ‘TRUST THE AMERICAN SYSTEM OF DEMOCRACY’.

FACTS that we have now learned in the Mueller Report have got to count for something. They cannot be ignored . Indifference is not an option. Indifference is a vote for what the FACTS show has happened and may continue. There comes a time when one must take action. Whether it is in support of what has now been disclosed or it is in opposition within our system. The time to make one’s voice heard is NOW!

Charles “Chips” Lickson, JD, Ph.D. Front Royal, Virginia

Former practicing, lawyer, mediator, teacher and Associate Professor of Political Science at Shenandoah University. Lickson is the author of eight previous non-fiction books including Ethics for Government Employees. He is currently finishing a fact-based novel, Refuge for a Scoundrel, due out in fall, 2019. Lickson will teach an upcoming class “Scandals in the Presidency” at Westminster Canterbury, in Winchester, Va.

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Opinion

OPINION: Candidate Poe doesn’t know the law

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Thank you for posting your video interview of Jason Poe. It was interesting and as always, I like that the Royal Examiner is on top of things that concern our community.

I do have an issue however about someone running for Sheriff and not understanding the law. You asked Mr. Poe about a lawsuit filed against him, which he said he was not aware of, and you also said something about the fact that it had been almost 2 years since the accident. Mr. Poe stated that he knew nothing about the lawsuit, he was not served.

The statute of limitations on personal injury matters such as this is 2 years from the date of the accident. The accident in this case occurred on December 24, 2016. The lawsuit was filed in a timely fashion. That two years is generally spent gathering information and attempts by the insurance company to settle the case. If they are unable to settle they file suit – which appears to have occurred here. However, they can request service or withhold service. That being said when a lawsuit is filed the attorney will copy the named Defendants and/or their attorney on the filing of the same.

So Mr. Poe should have received this in the mail. The Sheriff’s office would have also received it and I’m sure notified their former employee, Jason Poe, of the same. He, however,  acted as if he did not know what the statue of limitations is, more concerning is that he went on record – in your interview and stated “it was a minor accident”, there was barely an impact, he was going between “24 and 26 mph at the time of impact.” He further stated that he knew the passenger and he felt bad because he knew her.  Mr. Poe stated “they stopped suddenly to watch Santa Claus cross the bridge”. There were two children in the back of the vehicle.

If Mr. Poe observed two children in the back of the vehicle and Santa Claus crossing the bridge, why didn’t he observe the car stop in front of him? Was he following too closely?

If Mr. Poe understood the law, as a candidate for Sheriff, he would understand that the statute of limitations has NOT run out for those two children in the back of the car. The statute of limitations does NOT run out on minors until 2 years after their 18th birthday. The other thing he said was – they stopped suddenly. He didn’t apologize, he didn’t accept responsibility, he didn’t admit any wrong doing – he laid the blame on the driver of the car he hit and only said he felt bad because he knew the passenger. Can he accept responsibility for his actions? Clearly not. As an Officer of the Law, which he was acting in the capacity of at the time of the accident shouldn’t he have paid more attention? Shouldn’t he have been concerned about all the people in the car, not just the one he knew? This is a candidate for Sheriff?

Just one more thing Ms. Shaw – Mr. Poe stated that he left the Sheriff’s office on January 23, 2017. He stated he started at Winchester January 23, 2017. I called the Sheriff’s office – his last day was January 17, 2017. I cannot obtain the information as to whether or not he was given any type of administrative leave as a result of this accident and I don’t know if you can get it via FOIA. But I do know this, despite what he said, the accident was 12/24/16 and he left 1/17/17. I don’t think this was a coincidence and I do not believe he is being very transparent. I wish your video had been live so people could call in and ask these questions.

Thank you for allowing a concerned resident of this County to voice his concerns. And again, thank you Norma Jean Shaw for your reporting on all this mess going on around here. You’re an asset to the County.

Arthur DuBois
Warren County

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Opinion

Today is Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter

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Today is Maundy Thursday. Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). This is the “mandatum”… our mandate as Christians to serve others. He washed His apostles feet and went out to a garden to pray. He asked them to watch, but they fell asleep. Jesus was arrested, tried, beaten, spit upon, and humiliated beyond words… our Lord… our Teacher… who taught servant-hood and love.

All during the night, He would be humiliated and tortured, and have placed upon His head a crown… one of thorns. More painful was the abandonment… the men He taught… the twelve… abandoned Him.

People abandon Him daily by living sinful lives. We have the chance now to show our love by following His “mandatum”… to become a servant… to serve… to love… to proclaim Jesus as our Savior.

Does the cock crow for me… or ye? I pray not… (reference verse: Luke 22:34).

Reverend Larry W. Johnson
Front Royal, VA

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Opinion

FRIBA encourages all of our community to be more compassionate about our current state of affairs

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Over the past month, Front Royal and Warren County have encountered a financial crisis that threatens the balance in our community.  This crisis affects the trust we have in our elected and appointed officials, which could further jeopardize the faith that we have had in our systems and in our fellow citizens.

As an independent business organization, The Front Royal Independent Business Alliance (FRIBA) encourages all of our community to be more level headed and compassionate about our current state of affairs. We must remain strong, use our character, our leadership and our discipline as examples for others to follow. We must have faith and understanding and avoid the madness of the crowd during this difficult period. We need to find solutions through facts, not repeating rumors. The results of these compassionate actions will help us heal and become stronger.

We encourage everyone to study the issues, avoid the negative crowds and social media mudslinging, and strive for the positives. We need to count our blessings, lean on each other for support and compassion. Together we can learn from the mistakes from this period of time and seek to improve what we have. Be a constructive leader, a sound business person and a faithful follower of the good that will result.

We ask that you put aside the pettiness and blatant criticism of the innocent, their families and their rumored guilt. Rumors can hurt families and the county’s overall reputation. The courts will find the guilty and they will suffer, rightfully so. We ask that you also remain vigilant as good citizens, so that these mistakes will not ever happen again.

Remember your family, your faith and your community, and share your kindnesses every day! Together we as a community will survive and become stronger.

The Board of Directors of FRIBA
George McIntyre, Craig Laird, Arline Link, Patricia Moore, Michael Swauger, Mike McCool

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Opinion

A “nothing” in a tomb, rising in glory

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A recent article, “A Place Of Lost History And Identity”, addressed the search for the graves/markers/names of those buried in an African- American cemetery. Highlighted was one Carolyn Jenkins.

It really touched my heart, for this lady was at the “bottom” of the social and economic “ladders” – a “nothing” if you will. For she was a slave, knowing only bondage to her master(s). An almost miraculous chain of events, though, brought her freedom and its promises, including citizenship and being a land owner!

Her marker reads, “And the finger of God touched her and she slept”. This, to me, would say she knew of and possibly believed in Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. Jesus said of Lazarus that “he sleeps”, but later added that “Lazarus is dead”.

So, Carolyn is to be considered dead; her body art rest “in the Lord”. Another miraculous event took place. Jesus called out, “Lazarus come forth”, and he came out of his tomb! Folks, this is beyond miraculous, it is something only God can do. And because Jesus has the power, even Carolyn is subject to His awesome words: “…all those in the grave shall hear my voice and shall come forth”!

Yes, yes, Carolyn is even now in the presence of Jesus and her body will rise from its tomb. Jesus said, “…because I live ye shall live also”.

Folks, this is what Easter (Resurrection Sunday) is all about. A “nothing” in an old, lost tomb rising in glory to everlasting life and joy in the presence of God our Saviour! Lost and forgotten? Never! He won’t forget us, for He is preparing a white stone bearing a new name for each one of us.

Well, to say a New name means He must know/remember the Old name. Think about that! A totally new and everlasting I.D., if you will!

When we get to heaven, if I can remember her name, I could look her up! In that event, I wonder if she might say, “Jess, I sure do like your letter”.


Rev. Jess Shifflett
Front Royal, Virginia

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