Pacifica Synod e-Message
In this Presidents’ Week, we share excerpts from a letter sent to us by General Shinseki, one who served so faithfully in our current president’s cabinet for a number of years. His letter is reprinted below and beneath his letter is the Pacifica Synod resolution read last May.
10 October 2015
Bishop Murray D. Finck
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
1801 C Parkcourt Place
Santa Ana, California 92701
Dear Bishop Finck,
Thank you for your very kind letter of 28 July 2015. I am also most grateful for the generous resolution recognizing my life’s work, which was enacted by the Pacifica synod council at its recent assembly.
I regret that we had just departed Kauaʻi when you visited there in August and returned to Northern Virginia after your September visit.
I was born into a Buddhist family, but had the good fortune to have a mother who was broad minded enough to allow her children to choose their own spiritual direction when they became old enough. As a result, my sister and I found our way to Lihuʻe Lutheran, and after a lifetime of watching two of her children grow up Lutherans, Mom was baptized there as well, late in life.
My path to Lihuʻe Lutheran was lighted by Pastor Tom Allport in 1950, when he found me and my friends playing sandlot ball on a public playground. He offered to teach us the basics, if we were willing to come play at the church’s playground. A number of us did, and over time, some were confirmed into the Lutheran faith.
During the post-Vietnam War years, I found myself challenged in my faith as a result of my wartime experiences. Nothing significant, but a time of review and reflection. The strength of a good and loving wife, to who I was married at the altar of Lihuʻe Lutheran, kept me firmly grounded in what was important about our faith and our lives. Patty and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in July.
I have been privileged to have served my country in uniform for 38 years and its Veterans for another five and half years at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many thanks for this outreach and embrace.
I have known just about every pastor who served at Lihuʻe Lutheran since 1950 … Pastor Paul (Kirchner) reminds me most of the young Tom Allport, who took me off the public playgrounds and into Lihuʻe Lutheran. My life’s direction changed.
We have also just received the framed copy of the Pacifica Synod’s Resolution. Thank you so much for your generosity and kindness.
With warmest regards,
Eric K. Shinseki
Shinseki Resolution as approved by the Pacifica Synod Assembly, May 29, 2015
Whereas Eric Ken Shinseki, born in Lihue and raised on the Island of Kauai, Hawaii, has been and continues to be a long-time member of the Lihue Lutheran Church, and
Whereas Eric Shinseki served in the United States Army with courage and valor in a variety of capacities from 1965 until 2003, and in those years was deployed to two tours of combat duty in Vietnam, one in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and was the senior Army officer serving in and responding to the attack on the Pentagon of September 11, 2001, and
Whereas Eric Shinseki, severely injured on the battlefield in Vietnam, has received three Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts along with 14 other awards and medals of distinction, and
Whereas Eric Shinseki, the first Asian-American to become a four-star general in the U.S. Army (1997), served on a variety of levels as soldier, officer, commander, chief of staff, and general, always remaining a supporter of chaplaincy ministry, and
Whereas General Eric Shinseki, appointed the 34th Army Chief of Staff, served under Presidents Clinton and Bush, during which time he innovated both challenging and sometimes controversial plans for the United States Army, and
Whereas the testimony and recommendation of General Shinseki to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in 2003 regarding the number of US soldiers needed to maintain order and peace for postwar Iraq was debated, disputed, and ultimately dismissed by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and
Whereas General Shinseki retired after 38 years of military service, and in the years following, others including CENTCOM Commander General John Abizaid, testified before the U.S. Congress that General Shinseki had been correct in his recommendation for the number of needed troops in postwar Iraq, and
Whereas President-elect Obama nominated General Shinseki to serve on the Cabinet of the United States as Secretary of Veteran Affairs, a position confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate on January 20, 2009, and
Whereas during his service in that capacity, the Veterans Health Administration was faced with significant issues regarding timely care, record-keeping, and inadequate financial support, and General Shinseki acknowledged that there had been a breach of integrity among some in leadership in several VA healthcare facilities, and
Whereas General Shinseki ended his service on the Cabinet of President Obama on May 30, 2014, and was described by journalists, military leaders, and the President of the United States as “a very, very good man who’s run up against some terrible problems” (during his career) and is “one who is held in the highest regard by other officers and military personnel,” therefore
Be it resolved that the Pacifica Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in its annual Synod Assembly on May 28-30, 2015, in Riverside, California, recognize General Eric Ken Shinseki as a faithful child of God, a man of great honor who sacrificially served the United States with courage and conviction, and a national leader who on numerous occasions held his professional and moral convictions higher than self-preservation or aspirations for career advancement, and
Be it further resolved that the Pacifica Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in Synod Assembly on May 28-30, 2015, gives thanks to General Eric Ken Shinseki for his lifetime of service to the United States, and along with his spouse, Patty, the Pacifica Synod expresses appreciation for their faithful Christian witness and for their support and participation as members of Lihue Lutheran Church on the Island of Kauai.