“And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.” (Isaiah 30:25)
“The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers.” (Zeph 1:14-16)
The Great Lady stood proud and erect in New York Harbor, her position of duty and remembrance for more than a century, as she watched helplessly as thousands of her people over whom she has so long stood vigil perished in the horrific attack on the World Trade Center. It was an eerie event to observe fanatic-driven airliners crash into the World Trade Center buildings out of a clear and pristine sky that late summer day in September, 2001. The role of the Grey Lady (Liberty) was to welcome and offer hope, not to bear arms in battle.
In addition to an uplifted torch that hails storm-tossed vessels far out at sea, she wears a crown of seven spikes representing the seven continents and seven seas. One arm holds aloft the torch, and the other a tablet upon which is inscribed, “July IV, MDCCLXXVI.” In my view, this tablet and date reminds us of the importance of remembering our Founding Principles enshrined and enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. A nation who forgets her roots shall not long endure. Her large feet (25 ft. long) also have meaning for us to remember. One foot is lifted to signify that our nation is moving ever onward and forward; the other foot is solidly upon the earth symbolizing the trampling down of shackles and bondage. This Great Lady Liberty will celebrate her 128th birthday on October 28 of this year. Affixed to the wall of the lower pedestal is this poem by Emma Lazarus, the New Colossus:
“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It is appalling to know that there is sufficient evil in the hearts of men as to aim airliners at buildings occupied by thousands of totally innocent people – men, women, and children (there were day care facilities in the WTC). But evil has existed from the heart of the first child born to woman, and it will continue to exist and grow in enormity, until the Lord sounds the last Trump, the skies are rolled back as a scroll, and those of faith, and those who have rejected faith, will see the Lord returning at the salient point of the Armies of Heaven.
Those who executed this heinous act were the very recipients of the cordial welcome the Lady represents on her inscription. They were welcomed, and even afforded privileges, when they came to our land. There are yet others who are drawing benefits and rewards from the American taxpayers who lie hidden in the hedges awaiting opportunity to strike against the gentle hand that has fed them and their families. They do, by no means, deserve to partake of the fruited vine of Liberty, for their false religion and hateful prophets preach notions and ideals that are hostile to the welfare of mankind and that Perfect Law of Liberty found in our Holy Scriptures. “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:25)
Lady Liberty, and the underlying principles of freedom and liberty, that she represents, has not moved an inch from her pedestal on Liberty Island. But all around her has shifted – the faith of her people, the honor of her leaders, the education in morals of her youth – all have undergone a seismic shift to the uncertain and sinking sands of insidious socialism and encroaching totalitarian ideas. The Faith of our Fathers have been relegated to ‘historical documents only’ if they are mentioned at all today. Free men, once emblazoned with the courage of faith in God and trust in His Providence, have grown scarce in a land that once bred giants.
When a toddler growing up during the Second World War, I remember an America who pinned her hopes on God, and acted with honor and courage on the Gospel principles they had learned in ‘grammar’ school. My mother, an ardent lover of the great hymns of the church, mingled her daily song list with songs of patriotism and courage of the time. My father was away in Europe fighting for the very freedoms that are being used today to subvert the greatest nation known to man. So, it did not seem strange to hear my mother sing, Old Rugged Cross followed by the Ballad of Rodger Young (a courageous young Army sergeant who willingly gave his life to save his platoon on New Georgia Island in the Solomons). She even adapted some of those military songs of the day to our personal use. She vainly tried to sing me to sleep with Taps, but changed the words slightly as she sang tenderly: “Day is done; Gone the sun; from the lake, from the hills, from the sky. Go to sleep, little boy – God is nigh.” On rare occasions, this amended military lullaby worked! The entire and official lyrics of Taps (the bugle call to which millions of our soldiers have gone to sleep from the Civil War to today) is as below:
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.
Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.
Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.
While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.
Though our symbols remain immutable and unchanged, the heart of America has grown weary of righteousness and faith. We are following in the path of Rome. Perhaps, the World Trade Center is a reminder to us that we must dust off the escutcheon of Liberty and Faith and return to the things that have made us great in the eyes of the world, and as recipients of God’s most coveted blessings. Behold, the barbarians are at our very gates. Though we desire to be cordial and courteous to all peoples, God never intended His people to fling open the welcome gates to those who are of a strange faith and morals. Let us read again the closing passage of that beautiful poem enscribed in Lady Liberty’s Pedestal: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” You will note that she appeals to those “Huddled masses Yearning to Breathe Free” – not those who are the enemies of freedom and moral conduct; not those who come only for filthy lucre, or social advantage; but those whose hearts YEARN to breathe free from the despotic governments of the world.
If the NEW COLOSSUS is awakened by the tragic deaths of innocents on 9-1-1, perhaps the sacrifice will have watered the fruits of Liberty.
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Prov 29:2)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.
In Christ Alone during Trinity,
+Jerry L. Ogles, D.D.
Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide & Chancellor, Faith Theological Seminary