20th Century, Catholic, football, History, Intercession, Minnesota, sports, Uncategorized

Smith Wins Heisman

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Bruce Smith’s number, 54, became the first officially removed from the roster in 1977.**

December 9, 1941
Halfback Bruce Smith (1920-1967), a college football sensation, becomes Minnesota’s first and only Heisman Trophy winner, then goes to Hollywood to play himself in the film Smith of Minnesota.

Smith was born in Faribault, Minnesota, where he excelled in high school football under the legendary football coach Win Brockmeyer. He then attended the University of Minnesota where he played halfback for the back-to-back national champion Gophers in 1940 and 1941. He received the Heisman two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.*

In 1910, the Minnesota Gophers lost the championship to Michigan 6-0. Tackle Lucius Smith, somehow, blamed himself for the loss. He vowed, allegedly, to have a son who would correct this wrong. Bruce Smith was that son. **

The following excerpt is an amplified account of his infamous “Run of the Century” from the Minneapolis Star Tribune written by Joe Christensen.

“That November battle for the Little Brown Jug needed no hype, pitting No. 2 Minnesota against No. 3 Michigan in Minneapolis. Eventual Heisman winner Tom Harmon threw a touchdown pass, giving the Wolverines the lead, and a crowd of 60,481 shivered beneath wind-swept rain.
“I just remember it was a wet day,” said Smith’s youngest sibling, June, who watched with her family at Memorial Stadium, where tickets cost $2.75 apiece.

Her brother’s No. 54 was barely visible with the mud. He stood in his leather helmet in the days before facemasks, a 6-foot, 195-pound force in Bierman’s single-wing offense.
On the play of the day, if not the century, Sonny Franck took the snap at Minnesota’s 20-yard line, heading right. Franck finished third in that year’s Heisman voting, so the Wolverines crashed toward him. But he quickly handed the ball to Smith on the reverse.
Smith hit the hole, jetted through two linebackers, and made a breathtaking cut left to avoid another tackle, sprinting the final 60 yards untouched. The Gophers held on for a 7-6 triumph.
“Some seven Michigan players took their shots at Bruce … yet he kept those hard-driving legs churning and scored,” Harmon later said. “It was a run that would have to be rated as one of the finest football has ever seen.”
Afterward, instead of hanging around campus to bask in the adulation, Smith followed his postgame ritual — jumping in the family car for the 50-mile drive south to Faribault.” ****
In effect, Bruce received the greatest honor in American college football, the Heisman Trophy, yet he contextualized the relevance of the sport in light of the attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into World War II.
“I think America will owe a great debt to the game of football when we finish this thing off,…”. “If 6 million American youngsters like myself are able to take it and come back for more … and fight hard for the honor of our schools, then likewise the same skills can be depended on when we have to fight like blazes to defend our country.” ***

Mr. Smith maintained a certain heroism at the end of his life also. Struck with cancer, he refused self-pity as he went from 200 to 90 pounds, but sought to encourage and pray with others in the same struggle. He made the rounds with Paulist Fr. William Cantwell who nominated Bruce for sainthood after his death on August 26, 1967. ****,*****

Holy One, the life story of Bruce Smith strikes the author with a sense of awe at his example of servant leadership. Throughout the Scriptures we find this archetype written in the lives of its’ authors. We see patriarchs who form and lead tribes because they have practiced following You in obscurity, total dependency, and want. We see the judges who are both human and erring, and yet reflect Your divinity in superhuman moments of brilliance. We see kings succeed because they continually revere and serve You, therefore, are equipped to rule equitably and wisely lead their nation. We see prophets whom You have broken and humiliated externally, often at the hands of their own foolish authorities, yet live as champions of Your conscience and unfailing love. What will You teach us today, Holy Spirit? What lessons are in the life of this amazing football player and human being for us today? How can this Heisman-winner lead us into rest and repentance?

We thank You for his example of redeeming his father’s sense of failure and shame. We freely confess that we sometimes want our kids to succeed for selfish motives. We should be feeding our kids’ souls regardless of outcomes, not them padding our fragile self-concepts. In spite of the motives of Lucius Smith, You allowed his son to succeed in almost the exact conditions where his father failed?! We thank You for this moment of triumph between father and son. Will You give us a passion for the success of our children like Lucius, but detach their lives from our vows, shame, and egos?

So often, heroism is defined in the blink of an eye. Perhaps this is why your Word constantly calls us to character training. The disciplined mind does not waste time in crisis, but instinctually has chosen beforehand how to respond. Maybe this is a part of Smith’s momentary greatness in his “Run of the Century”? His training overtook his consciousness so that he could simply be in the moment! We thank You that a few moments of his serendipitous action blessed his generation of Minnesotans; both on and off the field! We give You thanks for the supreme beauty of seeing a person being themselves; of fulfilling their purpose so completely that it looks easy! Will You help us remember, right now, this day, that no act of momentary greatness can surpass Easter: Your Passion, Your Crucifixion, and Your Resurrection! Will You inspire our youths’ in Minnesota to actively train their total beings so that they can intuitively and instantly respond with authority to moments of dilemma?

It’s notable that Smith, after this astounding battle against Michigan, responded to victory by just going home. He subtly demonstrates to us that a hero already has a life, and does not attempt to get life out of accomplishments. He defined his own success instead of success defining him. Lord, thanks for his example of fulfillment: he came, he saw, he won, and then he rested. Will You bless us to do the same? Will You help us to choose what success looks like to us, and to relax in it?

Eternal Father, Smith is beloved for many things, but another noteworthy attribute of his was a lifestyle of teamwork. He related to the Gophers as he related to the team of Minnesota as resident, and as a team member of the United States to the threat of World War II. He saw that the principals of winning a football game applied to our American team standing up to existential threats. Jesus, thank You that this young man practiced a lifestyle of teamwork. He saw the necessity to rally his neighbors the same way he rallied his team. He chose to believe that winning is possible, therefore, it is. Will You give the same sense of integration and encouragement to our team’s leaders both present and future?

Bright One, thank You for the light shone through the life of number 54. He realized some brilliant insights early in his walk. Conceivably, the greatest moral of this event in state history is that experiencing heroism makes one want to call out other heroes.

Even as he was dying, he sought opportunities to lift up his team to be cancer survivors. He went out under the spiritual authority of his elders, Father Cantwell, and under You!He wanted share Your heart, the heart of a champion; the heart of faith. Thank You for Bruce Smith and his life of faithful servant leadership! Thanks for Cantwell and the ministry of the Paulist Fathers to: reach out, bring peace, and seek unity. Will You release our generations to: live the same heroic life of faith, to choose our response before a trial, and to be prepared for momentary greatness? We really can win this game! Amen!

“But God gave him back to life, having made him free from the pains of death because it was not possible for him to be overcome by it.” Acts 2:24 BBE ******

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://gophersports.com/sports/2018/5/21/sports-m-footbl-spec-rel-heisman-html.aspx
*** Written by Joe Christensen for Minneapolis StarTribune, December 12, 2016. http://www.startribune.com/bruce-smith-among-the-greatest-gophers-lifted-a-heisman-trophy-and-american-spirits-75-years-ago/404527966/?refresh=true
**** https://www.paulist.org/who-we-are/bio/fr-william-cantwell/
***** https://www.heisman.com/did-you-know-the-1940s-heismans/
****** https://biblehub.com/acts/2-24.htm

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20th Century, History, Men, Minnesota, Uncategorized, World War II

Minnesota Enters World War II

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December 7, 1941
On the morning of December 7, 1941, members of a Minnesota Naval Reserve Division on the U.S.S. Ward are patrolling the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The crew spots and sinks a midget submarine—the first shots fired by the United States in World War II. An hour later the air attack begins that will draw the U.S. into the war. Private Milburn Henke of Hutchinson, serving with the American Expeditionary Force, will become the first enlisted man deployed to the European theater. *

Carl and Louise Henke had a son August 24, 1918, and they named him Milburn. He grew up in Hutchinson, Minnesota, and partook of the pastimes of boys then: hunting, fishing, working for his father, and playing baseball. Soon, he enlisted voluntarily, and was assigned to “B” Company, 135th Infantry Regiment of the 34th “Red Bull” Division which was merged with Iowa National Guard’s “B” Company, 133rd Regiment during training. **

The Red Bulls landed in Belfast on January 26, 1942, approximately one month after Pearl Harbor. Henke was promptly asked to meet with General Russell Hartle. The General inquired if he was willing to speak with reporters. “Well, if I have to, I think I can,” Henke replied. **

A publicity event welcomed him: a cheering crowd, photographers, and reporters. He had to walk down the gangplank six times so that the press could get a perfect shot of the first American soldier to set foot in Europe?! The newspapers and magazines had a feeding frenzy with Henke, but the climax was meeting the Queen and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Though highly publicized, Private Henke served like any G.I. and did his duty. In North Africa, he earned a Silver Star by saving his wounded Lieutenant by dragging him to safety under heavy fire. After liberating Tunisia, Milburn was wounded during preparations for the invasion of Italy. His back was broken when his weapons carrier rolled over onto him. **,***

Such were the sacrifices of these brave Minnesotans and Iowans! Please read this well-researched excerpt from the article “Private First Class Milburn Henke Lands In Belfast, Ireland” by Jason McDonald.
“The 34th Division fought in North Africa and Italy for the entire war, the longest serving unit in the United States Army. Very few of the 4,058 men who landed with Henke were left in the unit in 1945; only seven men who landed in Northern Ireland remained in 1st battalion in 1945.” ***

Lord, I’m so humbled and honored by this recollection of Milburn Henke and his 4,000 brothers that I can barely write. I thank You for the character given to these young men by their upbringing. I thank You for their obedience to do their duty in the face of suffering and death.

It reminds me of Your sacrifice, Father. You let Your son be torn in two by the Roman Empire, the accusations of the Sanhedrin, and the collective blindness of humanity?! Too few can recount the parental sacrifice of Your only Son, and too many are indifferent to Your pain. I include myself, shamefully, to the list.

I do not know if I possess the character to let my children die so the children of strangers can live. If I did, I would want to force my neighbor to remember this sacrifice. Likely, I would driven to rage by irreverence or indifference of the community to my pain.

Will You forgive my irreverence and indifference to the humiliation and public execution of Christ? Will You forgive Minnesota the irreverence and indifference to the humiliations and deaths of these elders from the 34th? Will You give us their strong portion of vigilance so that future generations will have the privilege to experience liberty?

Give us a heart like Henke. When and where conflict arises, let us volunteer to oppose it. Will You bless us to humbly do our duty today? We remember the existential threat World War II presented our State and Nation. We ask that You enable present and future generations to have the same resolve whether given heroic praise or no recognition for their efforts; “Well, if have to, I think I can.”

In parting, we are grateful that You acknowledge our efforts to serve. Like Henke’s story, we give You honor that You can do so much with a single choice! May we choose Your way; grace and truth, resolve and mettle.

“Little Is Much When God Is in It”

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There’s a crown, and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ name.
Kittie L. Suffield, 1924 ****
* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.mnmilitarymuseum.org/exhibits/veterans-page/sgt-milburn-h-henke/?ccm_paging_p_b3480=2
*** http://worldwar2database.com/gallery/wwii0193
**** https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Little_Is_Much_When_God_Is_in_It/

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20th Century, Christian, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, State Government, Uncategorized

Thye Becomes Governor as Governor Stassen Resigns

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Shirtless flying ace Pappy Boyington greets Capt. Horold Stassen.

Apr 26, 1943
Edward J. Thye takes office as the state’s 26th governor when Governor Harold E. Stassen resigns to enlist in the Navy four months into his third term.*

To better asses the relevance of this event, let’s learn some background information on each of these men starting with the regional success story of Edward Thye.
“Edward J. Thye, the twenty-sixth governor of Minnesota, was born near Frederick, South Dakota on April 26, 1896. His education was attained at the Tractor and Internal Combustion School in Minneapolis, at the American Business College, and at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated in 1918. During World War I, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a private, and later rose to the rank of second lieutenant. After his military service, he worked at the Deere and Weber Company for two years, and then went into the dairy business. Thye entered politics in 1938, serving as the Minnesota deputy commissioner of agriculture, a position he held three years. He also served as the lieutenant governor of Minnesota from 1942 to 1943. On April 27, 1943, Governor Harold Stassen resigned from office, and Thye, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. He was elected to a term of his own on November 7, 1944. During his tenure, a human rights commission was created; highway construction was advanced; a department of aeronautics was initiated; and an iron range rehabilitation commission was formed, as well as a postwar planning commission. In 1946, Thye won election to the U.S. Senate, but remained in the governor’s office until January 8, 1947. He then took his seat in the U.S. Senate, a position he held until 1959. Governor Edward J. Thye passed away on August 28, 1969, and was buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery in Northfield, Minnesota.”**

Using the same highly accurate source, we’ll look into the backstory of Governor Stassen from the vantage point of the governors association.
“During his tenure, the state’s highway system was advanced; a civil service law was sanctioned; tourist business with the state was promoted; and an anti-loan shark and labor bill was authorized. Governor Stassen resigned from the governorship on April 27, 1943, to enter service in World War II. He served as a captain in the U.S. Navy and was awarded numerous decorations for his heroic service. He also served on Admiral William F. Halsey’s staff as an aide and flag secretary. After his military service, he returned to his political career.” ***

This author was also pleased to find the information below written and researched by his great nephew
“With the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese brought more change to Harold’s career.  When he ran for reelection as governor in 1942, he announced in a radio broadcast from the Governor’s Office on March 27, “The offensive drive for victory against the totalitarian forces that threaten the future of free men will be conducted in the main by the young men of my generation.  I want to be with them.”  He won reelection.” ****

Using these small kernels of information, will You guide this prayer Holy Spirit?
Will You show us root truths or misbeliefs that you may wish to address? Will You bring acknowledgement of wrongs, separations, and sins that unlock us from continuing down a rocky path?

Right away, the prompt to read the “Love Chapter” a.k.a. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 comes to mind. Why? Who gives away their authority and power except a human being that believes in love, and an overarching authority greater than his or her own?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking…” NIV 1 Corinthians 13:4-5a

These Governors were not self-seeking, but ones who understood that the strength of their authority comes from being servants of their fellow citizens…even to the point of death. They led by example, and not from behind. Father, remember this happy day in our State when the people could clearly see that Stassen and Thye would do their duty!
Please encourage or exhort, build confidence or condemnation of our present leadership as needed so that we can continue a trust relationship with them! Will You raise more leaders in the North Star state who invite Your authority, and have humble hearts to lay down their domains of power at the proper time and season?

We also see their recognition of evils in their times. We take note with You today that they could see through the pleasant disguises of Stalinism, shintoism and the Showa Period of Japan, the fascism of Italy, and the Nationalsozialismus Party of Germany. Before the war began, westerners of many stripes saw and reported the positive, humanistic potential of these worldviews. Father, You know the names, but allow me to list a few who were charmed by these regimes: industry giant Henry Ford was awed at the efficiency of the German state factories, Neville Chamberlain perhaps sought peace, but placated warriors, and US President F.D.Roosevelt publicly stated, “Some of my best friends are communists.”

So we see a bitter root of envy within the goodness of our leaders; sometimes they are duped by evil. To expand, sometimes they may admire or even covet the drive to power of dictators, and secretly want to never be questioned in their goals or hampered by the restraints of law. Yet, within all leadership is a human being that is often no better or worse than the rest of us.

Lord, we confess our covetousness of the power of our neighbor(s). We confess that can become imbalanced when we love control more than contentment. We acknowledge that we often fold in the face of depravity, corruption, and vice rather than stand boldly against them. Will You remove this offense against You from our record?

Lord, we give honor to Governor Stassen and to Governor Thye. Will You remember their commitment to stand against the evils of the collectivism that called itself good in their age? Will You cause us to stand against the evils of our present era in the same way? Give us pause to consider; are we ready to die to our life’s ambitions to obey You, love Virtue, and love the Truth? Will we put aside our livelihoods for the sake of future generations of Minnesotans? Will we let our neighbor fight our battles, or will we (like Your example through Harold Stassen) lay down our lives for our friends? Have mercy on us, dear Father! Will You help us choose wisdom?

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

** https://www.nga.org/governor/edward-john-thye/ Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
*** https://www.nga.org/governor/harold-edward-stassen/
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
**** https://lgoossens.blogspot.com/2012/04/who-was-harold-stassen.html

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