Brigadier Birthday-July 4th

July 4th is a chance to celebrate our Independence, but this year we are also celebrating the birthday of a man who was the face of The Birmingham Salvation Army for half a century. Brigadier Luther Smith was born July 4th, 1916. He spent his life helping others. Ordained and commissioned by The Salvation Army in 1936, he led the Birmingham Area Command from 1971-1979, and his service to the community transcended the local Salvation Army. He had served in many cities around the country and internationally, but his home was here in Birmingham where he served right up to his death in 2011. He once served as president of the Birmingham Kiwanis Club while it was the largest club in the country. Brigadier Luther Smith continually stood up for what was right even when doing the right thing was not popular. He was a founding member of the Birmingham Race Relations Committee. Even against the wishes of the Advisory Board, he opened the doors of the Corps for freedom riders to sleep because he thought it was the right thing to do. His compassion and ministry to the sick and hurting is legendary in the Birmingham area. He faithfully visited hospitalized people and was known to get there many times before the family did. All of his service to others didn’t go unnoticed. Among the many awards received was “The William Booth Award”, “The Exceptional Service Award”, and the “Order of the Founder Award” received in May of 2010. It is the most prestigious award given to any Salvation Army officer and has only been handed out 12 other times in the Southern territory. He has maintained a lively pace into his 90’s including working 3 days a week. In fact, he had only recently set aside his hobbies of flying airplanes and riding his Harley at the time of his death in 2011 of pneumonia. Let us never forget how he enjoyed his life long calling. As he said, “I would do it all again the same way.” His posture always correct, his tone always kind, he greeted everyone with a handshake and a smile. Always eager to know another human being, he talked with everyone as if he had known them forever. We have missed seeing that uniform roam the halls of The Salvation Army office, but he left behind a memory of what a great man is, and anytime we can act as he did, we are allowing him to live on through us. His life was the model for the Salvation Army Officer, and for us all. Serving others his entire life, he had an incredible commitment to Christ and was a great servant and messenger of hope. If you would like to donate in his honor and keep his legacy of helping those in need alive click here. Thank you and have a safe and peaceful July 4th!

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