BULLARD - Lt. Col. Oliver North touted America's military personnel and Christian education during the annual Founder's Day celebration of the 20th anniversary of The Brook Hill School on Monday.

North, a decorated combat Marine, best-selling author, inventor and host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, praised The Brook Hill School and other Christian schools for preparing future Christian leaders for the country.

A highlight of the celebration was the presentation of the 2016 Guardian Award to Mike and Donna Clements for making a significant impact on the area, their support of The Brook Hill School and efforts to further the school's mission.

They started the Clements Family Foundation 10 years ago to support East Texas and have worked in various civic organizations, including the Mentoring Alliance and the Boys and Girls Club.

Christian schools like Brook Hill give him hope for the future for his 17 grandchildren, North said, despite declaring the country is in deep trouble.

The country is not only confronted by radical Islamic terrorists but also by the issue of "whether or not we are going to follow the biblical mandates that the founders all believed in," North said.

North deplored that he was in the last class in America in 1961 that could pray publicly in public schools.

Indicators of a culture that is failing, North said, are going up by the numbers of divorces, school dropouts, crime committed by children, unplanned pregnancies by high school students and drug cases.

Christian education began in earnest in 1962, the first year prayer was not allowed in public schools, North said.

As a consequence, youngsters graduate from Christian schools with the same kind of math and science education as any other kid in America, but they have had role model leadership of believers who can teach from the Bible at the same time they are teaching history, math or science, North said.

"That changes everything. The endowment of Brook Hill is the youngsters that graduate every year," North said. "The future of this school is crucial not just to Texas, but also to this country," he added, because of the Christian education it provides.

"Youngsters who have received a Christian education are going to run this country someday and that's important in the future for my grandchildren," North said.

To help keep Christian education going, North encouraged the crowd to have the courage to invite others to next year's Founders' Day celebration.

Secondly, he urged following the example set by Jesus Christ in washing his disciples' feet of how to be a Christian leader. Students in a Christian school see that kind of grace in teachers every day, North said.

"This country needs the graduates of Brook Hill School because they are the kinds of people needed in leadership positions," North said.

Thirdly, North said generosity is important for continuing Christian education. He was putting his money where his mouth is by presenting a $1,000 check to the school conditioned on others making a similar donation. Quickly, 11 people in the audience raised their hand committing to give $1,000 each.

North also spoke about America's military, pointing out this is the first time since the American Revolution where every single person in U.S. uniform is a volunteer.

The average age of U.S. military personnel is 20, their average education is 13 1/2 years and they joined because of the 9/11 attack on America, North said.

They have had multiple deployments and face brutal, vicious enemies who are the most inhumane confronted since World War II, North said.

Today's military maintain and operate the most sophisticated weapons and equipment the world has ever seen, North said. "Their responsibility and accountability exceeds that of the CEO of any company because they have the lives of other people in their hands," he added.

"They are brighter, better educated, better led, better trained in equipment than any military force in history and today they are the most combat experienced," North said.

Twitter: @Betty_TMT

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