National Chaplain's Message
Harvey H. Klee
National Chaplain of the American Legion
On the third Monday in February we celebrate President's Day, notably the birthday of George Washington, which was established as a federal holiday in 1885. In some states it has been expanded to include Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
This timeframe reminds me of a sermon written by Henry Van Dyke in 1893. Van Dyke was a minister, who joined the United States Naval Reserve Chaplain's Corps. You may know of Van Dyke as the author of the hymn "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.” His sermon was entitled, “The people are responsible for the character of their rulers."
The gist of his sermon is stated in these words: "The rulers are chosen from the people by the people. The causes which produce the men and raise them to office, and clothe them with authority, are in the heart of the people. Therefore in the long run, the people must be judged by, and answer for, the kind of men who rule over them."
Our founding fathers were true patriots, who loved their country with a loyal, steadfast love and desired it to be ruled by the best leaders available. When history completes the record and posterity pronounces the verdict, it is by the moral quality of our leaders and representatives that a people’s patriotism must be judged.
Today, we seem faced with a crisis of fraternity: whether a vast people of all sorts and conditions of humankind can live together in liberty and brotherhood, without standing armies or bloody revolts, without unjust laws which discriminate between the rich and the poor and crush the vital force of individuality, divide classes, and live in liberty and fraternity and with the least possible government and the greatest possible security of life and property and freedom of action. The leaders who wreck or rescue our country will simply represent the moral character and ideals of the American people.
It is within this context and out of this concern that I offer the following prayer.
We come to you at a time that our nation is struggling. Struggling with wars, identity, cohesiveness and most of all, struggling with faith. We acknowledge that we have problems and issues here in this time and this season of your creation.
We believe in our hearts that you have the ways and means to change the minds, thoughts and hearts of those in power, and those to make the decisions that affect our very lives. We ask for a revival of faith in the United States in our churches, places of business, homes and halls of Government.
Lord, be the guiding light over the United States and its leaders. We pray over the military generals and leadership of the United States so that they might make good and just decisions for our country. Bless the soldiers in the fields, fighting for the United States. Be with them to protect them from the harm and danger that they face.
We thank you, Lord, for allowing this prayer to be prayed as a petition of prayer for our country, its people, its leaders and our world.
Harvey H. Klee
National Chaplain 2016-2017