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Posted: January 8, 2011 3:52 p.m.

Religion, morals and service make America strong

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Religion, morality and a dedication to service are central to building communities, and a stronger America, said Jackie Gingrich Cushman, a local author and syndicated columnist.

Cushman, the daughter of former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, spoke about American values passed down from the nation's forefathers and about the service oriented nature of being a elected official at Friday's Newton County Legislature Prayer Breakfast.

"I was talking to the judges this morning, hearing about how this group started and talking to service organizations and understanding how important it is for you all to come together as a community. And to understand your common foundations. And to understand the importance of prayer and service," Cushman said. "I'm very excited. I think is so very important and such a good sign, not only for this community and our sate, but for our nation, because this is exactly what we need to have happen everywhere."

The nondenominational, nonpartisan event was co-hosted by the Covington Kiwanis and Covington Rotary clubs, and attended by a variety of local officials, including local and state government representatives.

Cushman spoke to those representatives and told them about leadership and their responsibilities.

She told the story of a group of America revolutionary war soldiers who were attempting to lift up a wall and push it into place. The corporal was giving directions to the men, who failed to lift it. He tried to encourage them by yelling louder, but the men failed a second time.

Finally, a large man in a gray coat came and helped the men push up the wall. He asked the corporal why he didn't help. The corporal responded that he was helping by giving directions, not to mention he was a corporal. The man in the coat turned out to be General George Washington.

"That's a real leader. Someone who doesn't yell or tell, but someone who steps in and helps. Real servant leadership," Cushman said.

Cushman also spoke about the importance of stories and how they help pass on values to future generations.

"We tell stories about my dad, running twice and losing, before he won the third time," Cushman said. "It's not his failure that's so important, because failure is sad. What's important is that he got back up the next day and ran again. So we value persistence."

She spoke about how before the Revolutionary War, many colonists believed England and the American colonies could reach a peaceful agreement. Eventually, Patrick Henry came to the conclusion this would not be possible, leading to his famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech. She said stories like that can lead people to action.

Finally Cushman spoke about the power and prayer and the role God plays in people's lives and in government.

"Our nation is not just different in that we're a different location, a different format. We're different because when we declared our freedom, we understood that our rights came from god, they came form the people. And the people loaned them to the government," she said.

She said it's important to remember that elected officials get their power from the people, and that the people get their rights from God, so all are equal.

Cushman column appears every Sunday in The Covington News, and she is also the author of "5 Principles for a Successful Life: From our Family to Yours,'' and "The Essential American: 25 documents and Speeches that Every American Should Read."

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