Friday, June 1, 2018

My Speech at Memorial Service - Corinth Cenotaph (May 30, 2018)

In May 1868, the commander-in-chief of the Union veteran's group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, General John A. Logan, issued a righteous decree that May 30th be a national day of commemoration for the more than 620,000 soldiers killed in the American Civil War. The day was to be known as Decoration Day. 
What did people do on Decoration Day?
  • People from every walk of life laid flowers on the graves of their war dead; and,
  • They creatively decorated them to honor the sacrifice of those who lay beneath the soil that entombed them
Today we gather in this silent city of the dead to memorialize, to preserve the memory of, these brave men and women who contended with our enemy in mortal combat in order that these United States might be clothed in freedom for every man, woman, boy or girl - regardless of their race, creed, or even early country of origin.  
It is fitting that we conduct ourselves in this way each year.
We hold to a tradition at the Corinth Fire Department that at the start of our business meetings, we recite The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. Many of our civic groups do the same. We can be heard repeating the memorized lines, "And to the Republic, for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."I asked myself last evening as I stood to pledge, "Do I really affirm these words, or am I just intoning them out of habit or request?” I want these words to mean something to my children and grandchildren so that they carry with them the pride that I hold for this nation and her people.
So I put my hand to my chest, and with full voice, in invite you to repeat with me The Pledge of Allegiance:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag. Of the United States of America. And to the Republic, for which it stands. One nation. Under God. Indivisible. With liberty and justice for all." 
My friends, we, as Americans, possess something special, and wholly unique in the world. We steward something worth fighting and even dying for. But we must never allow minor irritants to become major distractions along the way to achieving our God-given purpose as a people.
Pettiness, disrespect, sectarian loathing, spoken and written untruths and even the dishonoring of our nation’s most cherished institutions must cease, for they hold no place among a people so blessed by their Creator.
I implore us, in the name of God, to resist such blatant misdeeds, that we might be a people for whom it can be said, “They are a city on a hill; a people set apart for special use.”
Let us Pray: “Our Lord and Our God. We gather here to memorialize those who have given so much so that we could be the beneficiaries of such great blessing. We ask that You guide our nation today as we sail into uncharted waters both here and abroad. Hold those who lead us at every level of government. Call us afresh to pray more for them than to criticize or judge them for their motives, for these are truly known only by You – and You see.
Draw close to the men, women, and children who grieve the loss of a loved one for whom we now gather to commemorate. They are ours – and we are theirs – and we stand with our hearts and hands wide open to help them.
We ask You again to bless the United States of America that she might be a blessing to the world.
In Your Name, I Pray. Amen.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Receive the Gift He Offers

All that is required of you is to open your heart and receive the gift he offers. There is an endless amount of God’s presence to receive. He is a vast and endless ocean that will never be fully discovered. But still he calls you to come and dive in. The Bible commands us in Ephesians 5:18 to “be filled with the Spirit,” to be filled with God himself. (Craig Denison - First14 5/3/2018)

Monday, December 18, 2017

How to Learn Something about God

"If you can set your self aside, you will not perish. You will learn something about God."

Kushner, Lawrence. God Was in This Place & I, I Did Not Know—25th Anniversary Ed: Finding Self, Spirituality and Ultimate Meaning (Kindle Locations 661-663). Turner Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Bill of Rights Day 2018

The US Bill of Rights

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York,
on Wednesday the fourth of March,
one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg
Speaker of the House of Representatives

John Adams, Vice-President of the United States
and President of the Senate.


John Beckley, Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Sam. A. Otis Secretary of the Senate.

*On September 25, 1789, Congress transmitted to the state legislatures twelve proposed amendments, two of which, having to do with Congressional representation and Congressional pay, were not adopted. The remaining ten amendments became the Bill of Rights.

Amendment #1 - Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment #2 - The Right to Bear Arms
A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Amendment #3 - The Housing of Soldiers
No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment #4 - Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment #5 - Protection of Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property
No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

Amendment #6 - Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Cases
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment #7 - Rights in Civil Cases
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment #8 - Excessive Bail, Fines, and Punishments Forbidden
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment #9 - Other Rights Kept by the People
The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment #19 - Undelegated Powers Kept by the States and the People
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fifty-six Years Ago Today

What were you doing 56 years ago today? 

Back then, it was a -19-degree day in January and the day John F. Kennedy was inaugurated President of these United States. He gave a clarion call: 

“Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.” 

Powerful words, and necessary, if we were to move forward as a nation and change the course of history under his leadership.

It was a special day for me because it was the day of my birth. I remember none of the happenings of the day (obviously) but I've always liked that I was born on the day J.F.K. was sworn into office.

As we stand on the threshold of a new day for America, I reiterate the message of Kennedy to you as a firefighter in Corinth and a citizen of the greatest nation on earth: 

“Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.” 

Once you ask the question, whatever answer you get back, will you ask God to help you and then just go and do it? Then we really can "Make American Great Again!".

Carpe Diem!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Catch the Raspings and Parings of Existence

“On the floor of the gold-working room, in the United States Mint at Philadelphia, there is a wooden lattice-work which is taken up when the floor is swept, and the fine particles of gold-dust, thousands of dollars’ yearly, are thus saved. So every successful man has a kind of network to catch the raspings and parings of existence, those leavings of days and wee bits of hours’ which most people sweep into the waste of life. He who hoards and turns to account all odd minutes, half hours, unexpected holidays, gaps ‘between times,’ and chasms of waiting for unpunctual persons, achieves results which astonish those who have not mastered this most valuable secret.” –Orison Swett Marden, Pushing to the Front, 1894

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Jonathan David

Angels Names Association
October 8, 2016 Memorial Service Speech

My name is Dean Brown and I serve as Lead Pastor of Vantage Pointe Church in Queensbury, NY. I also serve 39 Wesleyan Churches in Eastern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island as District Secretary. I am, too, Chaplain for the Corinth Fire Department. While all of this might seem to provide fodder for a handsome resume, behind all of the titles and uniforms is a human being whose life has been touched, as has yours, by too-soon separation from a child.

His name was Jonathan David. His young mother eagerly anticipated his arrival to her world. She sang to him the songs of Zion, rocked him to rest as often as she could, and whispered to him her silly stories that surely made him grin in utero. Like every mother who caresses the child of her love, she knew he would make her so happy one day and his face touching hers would make the world seem a much safer place for them both.

But one morning pangs of dread wrapped around her heart like a tangled fishnet upon the tail of a restless sea mammal and she knew her body was being dragged under a merciless wave of rejection and nothing she could do, or pray, or wish could stop the insistent trajectory of loss that was tearing her baby boy from her frame.

She would have parroted the words of John Green’s, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, where it was said, “I'm so proud of you that it makes me proud of me. I hope you know that.”

But now certain pride turned its back on her and hope took the last train to a faraway place where she could neither go nor leave at will. Her womb and her will were emptied and what remained would need to be carried silently, secretively, surreptitiously, almost covertly because she knew, like those she’d observed before, that no one would understand and ignorant souls would toll to her, “Come on. Move on. There’s nothing to be done now.”  

I met this woman on a -19-degree day in January, the day John F. Kennedy was inaugurated President of these United States. She heard his clarion call: “Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.” And turned the phrase - by affirming: “Ask not what your family can do for you-ask what you can do for your family” and she did it. And she committed. And she sacrificed everything to be certain that had Jonathan David lived, he would have been proud to call her, “Momma”.

How did I know this woman? She was my maternal grandmother. And I, I took the place of Jonathan, and received the warmth of her embrace, and learned the songs of Zion, and grinned at her silly stories and felt the heat of her face against mine and knew more than once that the world was a safer place because she was in it with me.
I leave with you her hopeful determinations so as not to let HIS life be swept away. And may they be for you instructive and encouraging:

  • ·      Nan could not forget her boy, JD, and never let us forget him, either
  • ·      Nan reserved a garden in her heart where she could slip away to be with him whenever the need arose
  • ·      Nan carried on, had another child and invested in both her children – and their children – with a ferocity of love and care and faith that was staggering to behold, comforting to experience and transformative for generations to come
  • ·     *Her loss became the world’s gain and the same can be true for you, too

Thank you, Nan, for showing us the way around the hurt by living through it. The first flower will be for you!