Army chaplaincy to celebrate 237 years of relevance and help|
Posted 1/25/2012 Updated 1/25/2012
Commentary by Army Chaplain (Capt.) Charles Marmor
1/25/2012 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaskas -- I have on the walls of my office, 12 pictures of Army chaplains throughout the history of our nation.
The pictures begin with the Revolutionary War and go through the Vietnam War, as well as in peace time (we need some pictures of Iraq and Afghanistan in the mix).
As you look at these pictures, you see men who have stood with Soldiers on the battlefield and provided whatever ministry they could.
One picture shows a chaplain at Valley Forge, Penn., praying over the Soldiers and Gen. George Washington also kneeling in reverent prayer.
Another pictures fasts forwards you to the Civil War and depicts two chaplains, one from the North, the other from the South, standing on a battlefield praying over the dead, while in the background, you see the officers ride off.
Fast forward again and there is another picture showing a chaplain on horseback out on the frontier visiting Soldiers and their families in a western fort, (my personal favorite).
Another picture shows a chaplain in World War I and then we head on to World War II. One picture shows the chaplain in the forefront of the Bataan Death March.
You can recognize the chaplain because of the cross on his bag he is carrying. The last and final picture I will mention is of chaplains performing services at all capacities.
Now, let me ask you a question. What do all of these pictures of chaplain's have in common? From the beginning of our nation, through today, the Army chaplain has been on the scene, whether on the battlefield, in the rear or safe in a garrison environment, he is giving everything he has to the Soldier.
This year the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps will celebrate its 237th year in existence. Gen. Washington recognized the importance of the chaplaincy in the armed forces of the colonies.
He recognized the need for spiritual leadership in the ranks. He being a devout Christian himself knew that spirituality was an integral and meaningful part of life.
The pictures I mentioned showed chaplains in different eras of our history during war and peace doing something that was bigger than themselves. The chaplains - although artist's conceptions - are replicas of today's chaplains.
Chaplains today are giving themselves over to something they know is a calling. Why else would they leave their families behind and deploy for a year in a country where we are at war?
Why else would they put themselves through school and the training required in order to help soldiers and their families? It is because they regard it as God's call upon their lives.
When one answers the call of God upon his life, he is answering to something bigger than himself.
He is answering a call from God to go and serve the greatest nation in the world alongside of the greatest Soldiers in the world. Our call sometimes will take us away from our families not just for deployments but something as simple as a hospital visit.
We have to remember we are serving someone bigger than ourselves.
We work for the E-1 as well as our commanders, and sometimes we forget that.
Sometimes we can involve our families into our ministry. On Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, I brought my three daughters with me as I visited soldiers in the barracks to make sure they had something to do or somewhere to go for those days. The Soldiers we met with were glad to see us. The girls enjoyed being there. It was a win-win situation.
Our call does not always have to be hard or done single-handedly. We can involve our families just like in the example above.
However, we are still giving ourselves and at the same time teaching our families that ministering to others is not for the reason of "what do I get out of it" but to be thinking of others and meeting their needs.
The chaplain has an important role in the military. Again, I as look at the pictures around my office, it is easy to see. All through our history, the chaplain has been a major part in the lives of his Soldiers.
Whether the ministry takes him away from his family or he takes his family to his ministry, our calling as United States Army chaplains is a calling higher than we could ever imagine.
We have the opportunity to connect with Soldiers and their families in ways others do not. Every chaplain is different in how they achieve that goal.
For some, building trust with the Soldier and finding common ground is first in developing a relationship.
The best way to do that is to do what the Soldier is doing. When the unit is in the field, on road marches, or doing PT in the mornings, then the chaplain should be doing the same things with the Soldiers.
Soldiers gain trust in the chaplain and thereby will be able to come to him with any issues that they facing. It is also good for morale for the Soldiers to see their chaplain doing the same things they are doing.
They need to feel the chaplain is a part of them and then they can relate to the chaplain better.
I have been on those long road marches, and have done PT with different platoons as well as participated in officer PT. That builds trust with everyone in the unit.
As I close, again this is a calling from God. I remember when I was praying and fasting about coming into the chaplaincy, a verse came readily to mind. Isaiah 6:8. It says, "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."
I answered that call to serve in the greatest Army in the world, for the greatest nation in the world, for the greatest people in the world. Many others have as well. May God bless you richly this year as you serve our great country!