Witnessing the Memorial Day, 2017 celebrations held throughout America a sense of pride, honor, duty, and courage pervaded the mood of attendees. The nation showed its deepest respect and gratitude to each and every veteran who has worn the uniform of their respective branch of service, whether they served in times of peace or of war. It is right and wise to remember the great price so many have paid to preserve the historically unprecedented civil and religious freedoms we as Americans have the luxury to enjoy. The future of the United States depends in large amount on how well we collectively remember and cherish what liberty really means, and what freedom truly is.
As thunderous rounds of applause to the stirring sound of “America The Beautiful”, which was chosen to end many celebrations, faded into the evening air, the words of that great song took on new meaning. As the verse says, our skies are still spacious and our fields still wave with amber grain. We still honor the heroes who died to keep the patriot dream alive. Those words of truth describe the magnificence that is America and those who made her great. And the truest words in the song are “God shed His grace on thee”. For the Almighty God of heaven has blessed this nation as none before it.
However, in verse four there is a section that no longer is true, that has turned the purity of our cities to a dark stain. Our “alabaster cities” no longer “gleam undimmed by human tears”. No, today in America our cities have turned into places of horrible crime. Violence prevails, imported though our borders by gangs of soulless thugs such as MS13 and drug cartels, there is civil disobedience to the point of anarchy by Black Lives Matter while selfserving politicians rule those once gleaming alabaster cities of America.
“Make a chain, for the land is full of bloody crimes; and the city is full of violence.” Words spoken by the prophet Ezekiel in his chapter 7, verse 23 just prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 585 BC ring as true in 2017 AD. They portray that ancient city’s lawless and rebellious state prior to its fall for rejecting God and His way of life.
The definition of a chain is a series of objects, people or events which are connected to one another according to Your Dictionary.com. And how well that describes the series of objects, people and events that have turned far too many of our once gleaming alabaster cities into defaced, scarred, and dull monuments compliments of an ever growing rebellious, lawless society.
Within the very shadows of the mighty, newly refinished dome of the capitol of the Congress of the United States lie the neighborhoods of Washington Highlands/Bellevue. Noted as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., there is a 1 in 17 chance of being a victim of a violent crime. Many of its buildings are covered with graffiti. There have been 77 shootings and 55 assaults so far this year, with one of the fatal shootings occurring a few steps from an elementary school. Washington, D.C. has the beauty of its polished marble halls of government but its poor neighborhoods are a dark stain filled with the tears of the citizens of those neighborhoods.
Connecting the chain of bloody crimes that cross our nation, let us link with Baltimore, Maryland. For the first time in nearly 20 years, the city of Baltimore has experienced more than 100 murders before the end of April. After five people were killed last weekend, the total number of homicides in 2017 ticked up to 108, according to the Baltimore Sun. The last time the city experienced more murders by this point was 1993. Since the population was greater in 1993, this year marks the city’s highest murder rate per capita ever, according to the Baltimore Sun. The murder rate in the city is up more than 30 percent compared to last year. Violent crime, shootings and robberies have also gone up by double-digit percentages from last year. At last week’s news briefing, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh explained how she went to the FBI’s Baltimore office to meet with the special agent in charge and requested assistance in bringing down the murder rate in the city. “Murder is out of control,” Pugh said at her weekly news briefing Wednesday, according to CNN. “There are too many guns on the streets. We’re looking for all the help we can get.”
Travel westward and come to the city of Chicago, Illinois. The “windy city” as it is called certainly has the chilling winds of major crime which connect it to our bloody chain. Shootings over the 2017 Memorial Day weekend left 7 people dead and another 45 wounded, a drop from last year, though almost half of this year’s victims were shot the last night of the weekend. The violence was similar to three of the last five Memorial Day weekends: 53 gunshot victims in 2012 and 58 in 2015. A total of 34 people were shot in 2014, and 21 were shot in 2013. Last year’s total was 71 and was the worst since at least 2012. It came during a year that saw almost 800 homicides and more than 4,000 people shot. The most violent day of the weekend this year was Memorial Day, with 24 people shot, five of them fatally, including a 20-year-old disabled man at a park he visited every day. Once again, within a few blocks of the city’s gleaming towers of commerce neighborhood buildings are awash in graffiti and the people fill the streets with their tears while the city leaders turn a blind eye. They are protected by armed bodyguards with weapons at the ready.
Let us stretch our chain to the County and “City of Angels”, Los Angeles, California. A man who authorities say fatally shot another man in front of a 6-year-old boy in Long Beach was charged with murder May 22, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. A Compton man was charged May 26 in the shooting death of a woman in late April at a Long Beach motel, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. More than two years after the fatal assault of a homeless man in downtown Los Angeles and nine months after his accomplice pleaded no contest in the transient’s beating death, a second man has been sentenced in the attack. A 17-year-old black male, died Thursday, May 25, after being shot in Westmont, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. A 54-year-old black male, died Wednesday, May 24, after being shot in Westmont, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. A 24-year-old Latino male, died Wednesday, May 24, after being shot in Pomona, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. A 17-year-old Latino male, died Tuesday, May 23, after being shot in Florence, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. Across the breadth and width of Los Angeles County violence permeates the landscape. The soulless thugs of MS 13 lead the way in murder, rape, and mayhem. Graffiti abounds on buildings, tunnels, freeway overpasses, and walls; much of it excused by the authorities as “art.” All this is within view of the three tiered, whitewashed, seismically stabilized landmark of City Hall, the symbol of the power structure at work in the “City of Angels”. If angels can cry, then their tears must be exceedingly abundant as they join the tears of its inhabitants who have to reap the curse of human government.
Circling the nation with our “chain” of bloody crimes and cities full of violence let us connect one more link. Houston, Texas hums with an energy and independent spirit all its own. A leading cultural and culinary destination in the South, the city is home to over 11,000 restaurants featuring cuisine from more than 70 countries. The thriving arts scene includes resident opera, ballet, symphony and theater companies. The Museum District houses 19 museums all within walking distance. Houston is home to the Space Center Houston, where you can visit NASA’s Historic Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center. But go beyond the glitter and the Chamber of Commerce hype and you find a city mired in bloody crime and violent sprees that again fulfill the ancient prophet’s utterances. Starting with the fatal shooting of a Subway sandwich shop worker on Feb. 22, five people died and two police officers were wounded in violent confrontations in a week’s time. Javier Flores, 18, died when he tried to protect his mother during a robbery at the southeast Houston sandwich shop where they both worked. De’Maree Adkins, 8, was killed early Saturday, Feb. 25 in a random shooting after she and her mother collided with a speeding car. A suspect has been arrested in her death. Oscar Reyes was gunned down in front of his pregnant wife a day later, and Jessica Lynn Mills, 29, was shot in front of her two young children by carjackers Monday night, Feb. 27. The sixth-most dangerous neighborhood in America is Sunnyside, a historically black community located off Texas 288 south of downtown Houston. The violent crime rate (per 1,000) is reported as 91.27, and residents have a 1 in 11 chance of becoming a victim of crime in one year. The soulless, mindless, and violent Houston gang known as the 52 Hoover Crips are a subset gang of the Crips, one of the United State’s largest criminal gangs. The Crips were founded in Los Angeles, California in the late 1960s. The heart of a city is in the heart of its people and the people of Houston lament and cry for their dead. Once again, many of the walls, bridges, tunnels, and buildings of the city’s infrastructure are defaced with graffiti, the city leaders excusing it as “art.”
To make a chain regarding the crime and violence of the above cities might seem to be biased or slanted in some way; far from it. The streets of Washington D.C., Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston are but a reflection of the bloody crime and violence that permeates throughout America. The tears from the streets of Boise Idaho, Midland Texas, Sacramento California, Miami Florida, and Muskogee Oklahoma as well as every city and town in America spill from the broken hearts of people brutalized by others who have no regard for human life or suffering.
Until the root cause of bloody crime and violence is changed nothing will improve. It will only accelerate until anarchy is the order of the day. If that time comes, and it does not seem too far away, America will not be that “shining city on a hill” but a country in tatters and ruins with its streets awash not only in blood but in tears. Believe it or not the only hope for America’s shining alabaster cities and its citizens to live in true peace and prosperity, for the entire world to live in peace and prosperity is for human nature to change. Change from the ways of vanity, jealousy, lust, and greed to the ways of love, peace, and joy found in obedience to the laws of God. That day will come, and soon!