Can I get a Witness? — T.F. Stern

By T.F. Stern,


There’s an article by Michael E. Ruane in the Washington Post, Gettysburg battle bullets found embedded in tree 148 years later . Historians call these Witness Trees since they stood at the time of the Civil War battle; bullet fragments captured in them testify of that terrible conflict.

‘“The real witnesses to the battle… are still here,” John Heiser, Gettysburg National Military Park historian, said Tuesday, “even though they can’t talk to us… They’re the last living witnesses to this singular event.”’

Thinking about the historical significance of these silent witnesses, what could we learn from trees whose lumber yielded building materials for houses, barns, furniture and other everyday items? Do such inanimate objects stand as witnesses or is that just a metaphor intended to grab the reader’s attention?

Could lumber used to build a house have seen a family struggling to make ends meet or would it have recorded tender moments as love was shared among friends and family at dinner? Perhaps some trees were turned into stately chairs and reside in the halls of Congress; wouldn’t that be interesting, the tales they could tell. It’s all speculation, considering what a tree might say; isn’t it?

A tour of Washington D.C.’s national buildings provides a glimpse of symbols which denote a binding link to God, as our Creator is so titled in the Declaration of Independence. Moses holding up the Ten Commandments adorns the top of the Capitol Building and the Ten Commandments appear engraved on the entrance doors of the Supreme Court. “Laus Deo”, translated into English, “Praise be to God”, rests atop the Washington Monument, etched into the solid aluminum stone cap. The list goes on and on; but those are just symbols, visual expressions of what is in our hearts and minds.

“We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” – James Madison, fourth president and considered the “father of our Constitution”

There is a concerted effort to separate our nation from anything having to do with religion and its associated symbols. The argument hinges on a ruling by our Supreme Court that somewhere in our Constitution a separation of church and state exists. Such wording isn’t in the Constitution; but the ruling stands all the same. The idea that our founding fathers intended such a separation is preposterous based on the archived writings available; but that hasn’t stopped the non-believers from filing law suit after law suit to have religious symbols removed.

Getting back to the Witness Trees of Gettysburg, what would the timbers, the carved stone and mortar used to build our nation’s capitol have to say to folks attempting to distance us from God?

“The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.” Alma 30:44

Did you catch that, “…all things denote there is a God, yea, even in the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it…”, trees, dirt, rocks and every other item found under, on or above the Earth testify of our Creator. How is it then, with all do respect to those who are intent on proving otherwise, these individuals have chosen to not to accept such evidence?

The Book of Jeremiah, chapter 5 explained it quite well starting in verse 21;

“Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:”

Skipping down a little:

“Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you. For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.” (verses 25-27)

Look out for the consequences for rebelliousness…

“Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”  (verse 29)

Should not a nation built under the direction of the Lord, a nation whose founding documents were written by choice individuals chosen for this purpose , should not our citizens be grateful for the many blessings we have been given? Be careful how you answer, more importantly, how you act; the rocks and trees are observing. They stand eternally as witnesses, either for or against your willingness to follow the Commandments of God.

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, chose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

The Moral Lib­eral asso­ciate edi­tor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Hous­ton police offi­cer, self-employed lock­smith, and gifted polit­i­cal and social com­men­ta­tor. His pop­u­lar and insight­ful blog, T.F. Sterns Rant­i­ngs, has been up and at it since Jan­u­ary of 2005.