I remember clearly seeing news cross the wires. It was October 2nd, the headline: Gunman holds Hostage in Amish school.
It came shortly after a horrific school shooting in Colorado — but these words seems so incongruent: Gunman — in an Amish school.
We all watched as the almost silent story unfolded.
There were the little boys. They'd been allowed to leave the one room schoolhouse, in a town called West Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. They sat on a long log in their straw hats, wondering what was happening inside.
Inside, a young girl named Marian, age 13, asked to be shot first. She wanted to see if Charles Roberts — a 32 year old who delivered milk to the town — would spare the others, including her sister.
There were no screaming parents — no grieving relatives talking to the reporters. They walked silently back and forth, from home to home.
But as shattering as the horrible events of the day were, perhaps none of us were prepared for the way the Amish community reacted. The turned out in larger numbers than the killer's family and friends, at HIS funeral. They said they wanted to forgive. They reached out to Robert's wife. They established a fund for the killer's children.
While most of us cannot comprehend how they acted in their grief — they said they wanted to show others how Christ forgives.
It is fitting that we remember them this Holiday season.
In September, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stepped to the podium at the United Nations in New York.
His speech followed one by President Bush the day before. It also followed a fiery speech by Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran. He had tried to convince the world that his nuclear ambitions were driven by energy needs.
The next day Chavez called President Bush the "devil" — he said the podium still smelled of sulfur.
It struck a raw nerve to hear him speaking that way in the U.S., in front of the United Nations. But even more unsettling was the applause and positive response that greeted the harsh comments.
But in a small village in Alaska — some residents were watching. The remote Aleutian and Pribilof islands hold some of our nation's poorest citizens. They suffer cold winters and expensive fuel along with real economic hardship. But as we found out, they are also among the nation's most patriotic.
Chavez had offered them free oil. But when they heard the Venezuelan president's words at the U.N. about our president, they wanted none of it.
Chavez — known for spreading cheap oil to some of the poorest in an apparent attempt to curry favor — was getting no where with many folks in Alaska. They would tough it out this year as they had many times....
This holiday season, we can all be inspired by our northernmost fellow-Americans.
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