Addie Mae Collins,
Carol Denise McNair.
Courage was required to go to 16th Street Baptist Church in the face of a summer of domestic terrorism. Your church was standing against the shadow of that hideous strength with light. The true light caused the vermin to scurry and become vicious.
Members of a terrorist organization, the KKK, placed sticks of dynamite under a church, killed four children, and injured many. Why? The children had the courage of the Christian conscience to call for justice. We should not forget the adults, men and women of faith, who pressed for voting rights and economic rights before and after these assaults on the free exercise of true religion.
If based on color you cannot own a home, then the market is not free.
If based on color you cannot vote, then the nation is not free.
If based on color you cannot be admitted to state educational systems, then education has betrayed wisdom.
Sometimes I am asked why recall such deeds?
Am I not a Christian? I am called to remember the martyrs.
Am I not an American? I am urged to recollect our heroes.
Am I not a man? I must follow the example of my betters to be fully human.
I do so for the same reason I never forget Pearl Harbor. I recollect for the same reason I remember the Alamo. Some courage is so great, some evils so horrible, that forgetting them would be an immoral act. We cannot forget, because God will not forget. When the End comes and all is considered, then justice will come. God help us to stand with justice and forgive us when we do not.
The other issue is that this terrorism is like 9/11: in my lifetime. The pain is worse, because Americans betrayed our founding and killed. Americans picked the shadows in our history rather than the true light. The terrorists attacked a church that would not say: “Caesar is Lord.” They attacked a church that said: “We are God’s children.” This loss of children was not so long ago. The relics of that day are recognizable to anyone over fifty.
This is an event in my lifetime where American citizens were murdered for living the life that our founding documents promised would be possible. I will never forget. Our school will never forget and like Archbishop Iakovos all the philhellene, the faithful stand with the King.
This happened the year I was born, so the murdered would be just a bit older than I am now if terrorists had let them live. This was long ago if you are young, but not long ago in the life of the Republic. I am here to testify
Today we began College and School with four bells, in honor of God’s martyrs, lest we forget. Why? We love the Word of God. We also honor the adults who did not quit, did not stay put, but went forward and so gained some measure of victory.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.