Friday, February 7, 2014

3-Star Generals Pass The Flag at JLBM

I think the most cynical critic of our military would have been impressed by the order and discipline of the change off command ceremony yesterday at Joint Base Lewis McChord near my home in Tacoma, Washington. My friend Chaplain Will Anderson leaned over to me at one point and said, "I don't think I've ever seen so many colonels in one place." For me that would include generals and other dignitaries, including a Medal of Honor recipient. 

I was impressed reading the names on the backs of all the hats in front of me, at just how diverse America and our military is. Names that represent every flavor, from Scandinavians, Germans, Koreans, French, Scots, to other Asians, Samoans, and soldiers whose names clearly have their origins in the Middle East. The ceremony gets its traditions, including the bugle signals, presenting of the colors, from more than one hundred and fifty years ago. There is definitely a liturgy to everything we witnessed. 

Afterward we chatted with an Apache helicopter pilot, soon to deploy to Afghanistan in Will's unit. Gazing at a $35,000,000 machine bristling with weaponry that made my teeth chatter (or was that partly from the cold weather, it was 14 this morning in the temperate Puget Sound region with a light dusting of snowfall here at sea level), I asked the pilot if he was anxious about being in combat. His reply, "I hope they shoot at me when I'm flying this thing. That means I get to shoot back." Later I asked the chaplain about pilots and about the condition of this pilot's soul. "Cocky, fearless, and lost as a goose," he replied. 

Pray for our chaplains as they minister the gospel to their needy parishes, and pray for our troops, safety under fire, yes, but for their souls, for them to be enlisted in the ranks of Christ's army, and taking the words of His liturgy on their lips and from their hearts.

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