Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with men serving our nation’s military by providing New Testament’s through the Gideons. We were at a public event on a U.S. Air Force Base and, frankly, I was surprised to see that they had such a front and center space for their display and work. It was not that way in the 70’s and 80’s when I was there. It got me thinking about how maybe something is beginning to change here in the U.S. I mentioned to the men from the Gideons about the New Testament my father received while in the hospital after his ship was sunk at D-Day. When I returned home I pulled that New Testament off the shelf in my study and was amazed to see the embossed seal and even more the inscription inside. It was not the Gideons emblem I expected. It was, though, as if I had unlocked the secret behind America’s greatest generation. The New Testament had the embossed seal of the United States Army.
What struck me was this Christian New Testament had been embossed with the official United States Army seal and then I opened the cover! On the inside cover was my father’s notes about when he received the New Testament from the Plymouth England military hospital chaplain. On the first page was printed at the top “The White House” – beneath that was an inscription signed by President Franklin Roosevelt. Read with me here the words printed on the Bible’s inside page by the Commander in Chief for the United States Armed Forces. Dated March 6, 1941, he writes that he is commending to them the reading of the Bible. He records that the in words of the “Sacred Book” people of diverse origins and faiths will find “wisdom, counsel and inspiration.”
The New Testament on the inside pages shows that it was authorized by the Chaplain of the Army and it was printed by the United States Government. Are you beginning to see the link here? Finally, in the book is a note from the U.S. Army Chaplain encouraging them to reach out to their chaplain. Do you think that perhaps, just perhaps, there might be a correlation between the encouragement and support of the Commander in Chief for the reading and distribution of the Bible and the cultivation of the world’s greatest generation ever?