The Word from the Top (7)

The Word from the Top (7)


“You shall not give false testimony.” Ex 20:16 NIV

The ninth commandment says, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” Why do we lie? For lots of reasons: to escape the consequences of our actions; to avoid paying our dues; to create a false image; to convince others we’re something we’re not. But it doesn’t work; time and truth force deception to surface—literally! In 1996 the body of the former ambassador to Switzerland was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, America’s resting place for war heroes. The granite tombstone read, “S1C [Seaman First Class] U.S. Merchant Marine.” But according to investigative reporters Don Van Natta Jr. and Elaine Sciolino in a 1997 issue of The New York Times, cemetery workers hauled the tombstone away and exhumed the casket. The reason? The man lied. For years he told others he’d served on the Coast Guard ship Horace Bushnell during World War Two. He said the Germans torpedoed the ship and he’d been thrown overboard, sustaining a head injury. But the record shows that at the time he said he was serving in the Merchant Marine, he was actually attending Wilbur Wright College in Chicago. The Coast Guard had no record of his having served in the Merchant Marine, or having earned the rank of Seaman First Class. Somehow the lie wasn’t discovered when the State Department investigated his background and he was made an ambassador. As a result, his remains were buried in Arlington Cemetery, and his tombstone engraved with a lie. But the truth came out, as it always does, and posterity now knows the facts. Think about that, the next time you’re tempted to spin a story that’s less than truthful.

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