By Arlene Bridges Samuels, CBN Israel—
If you stood outside the East Tennessee History Center on one of Knoxville’s busy streets, you couldn’t miss the handsome new blue marker with gold lettering extolling the heroism of a native son. Last Friday, August 20, this was the site of a memorial celebration attended by the Reverend Chris Edmonds, his family, and Tennessee dignitaries—including U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn and U.S. Representative Tim Burchett—to honor Edmonds’ father, Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds. Roddie Edmonds was a Christian, a humble, hardworking family man who enjoyed singing gospel music. He died in 1985 and could have never imagined that his words and actions in World War II would inspire millions of Christians and Jews alike.
What drew the crowd together on what would have been Roddie Edmonds’ 102nd birthday? Under a tent on that scorching hot summer day, Chip Rayman, immediate past president of the Knoxville Jewish Alliance, described Master Sgt. Edmonds as “Knoxville’s Schindler” and spoke of this remarkable man’s extraordinary lifesaving efforts during the Second World War.
Welcoming everyone, Chris Edmonds, who pastored Piney Grove Baptist Church in Maryville, Tennessee, is now the full-time CEO of Roddie’s Code, a foundation he established to move his dad’s legacy forward. Chris describes it as “God’s call to inspire heroes everywhere through my father’s fearless faith and righteousness.” Roddie’s Code means to choose righteousness, oppose hatred, dignify life, and esteem others.
It was Roddie’s Christian faith, his personal code, that resulted in saving 200 Jewish GIs under his command in Stalag IXA Nazi POW camp and later devising a plan that rescued all 1,292 of his men from a death march. Roddie and his soldiers in the U.S. Army’s 422nd Regiment, 106th Infantry Division, were captured in 1944 by Nazis in the freezing snows of the Battle of the Bulge. One night in the POW camp it became known to Sgt. Edmonds that the following morning, Nazis planned to separate the Jewish soldiers for execution or deportment to deadly labor camps. Sgt. Edmonds instructed his men to follow his lead and stand together. Continue Reading….