Army Family Honors the Fallen at Fort Hood
April 15, 2014
On April 9, 2014 an estimated 3,000 members of the Army Family came together at Sadowski Field on Fort Hood, TX to honor three Soldiers killed in the April 2 shooting attack on the installation: Sgt. 1st Class Daniel M. Ferguson, Staff Sgt. Carlos L. Rodriguez, and Sgt. Timothy W. Owens. In this memorial ceremony for President Barack Obama, Secretary of the Army John McHugh, Chief of Staff of the Army General Ray Odierno and III Corps Commanding General, Lieut. Gen. Mark A. Milley gave remarks as the Army Family grieved another tragedy at Fort Hood.
Chaplain (Col.) Matthew Goff, III Corps Command Chaplain provided prayer, scripture reading, and meditation for the memorial ceremony. His full remarks are listed below:
Would you bow with me as we pray.
Almighty God, as we enter this sacred moment of memorial, we pause to acknowledge you, the God of all comfort and mercy. We ask that you would be with us, collectively and individually, and bring healing, as we remember and honor our three fallen comrades, Daniel, Carlos, and Timothy. Walk with us through the valley of our grief to console and sustain us by your strong and steady hand. Encourage us by your Spirit and by the presence of family and friends that gather around us, walk beside us, and lift our broken hearts. And now, even as we grieve the loss of these men, we thank you for their selfless- service to our Nation and for the legacy they leave behind. Bless their memory, and may our thoughts of them, and your healing touch, sustain each Soldier, Family and Friend in the days ahead. In your holy name we pray, AMEN
SCRIPTURE READING & MEDITATION
A reading from Psalm 46, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam… and the mountains quake with their surging. The Lord almighty is with us…be still and know that He is God."
The psalmists words here describe a world that is in chaos. Things are not as they should be. Some great force has shaken… the foundations of life…
For all of us here today, our worlds have been shaken… by the tragic events of last week. By the sudden… and unexpected loss of those we loved…of those who were part of our team…a part of our family.
There is a poignant poem that captures well the feelings expressed by the psalmist…and may capture your feelings as well. The poem simply says…
When you lose someone you love...it hurts!
It hurts in the middle of the night…
It hurts in the middle of the day…
It hurts in the middle of your stomach!
It hurts to lose someone… you love!
The reason it hurts so much…is because we loved so deeply. We loved the one who is no longer with us…husband…son… father… brother…friend…
We loved them… and now they are gone. And we grieve their passing. But we must never forget… that we do not walk through the valley of grief… by ourselves.
The psalmist recognized this when he placed bookends of reassurance around his description of the chaos. He began with the words "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble." And he ended by saying, "The Lord Almighty is with us."
God walks with us and even carries us when life hits us hard.
But not only does God walk with us others come along side to walk the journey… family members…close friends…fellow Soldiers…sometimes total strangers… all come along side to support us and to lift us… and, if possible, to ease our burden and carry our grief. We never have to walk alone…
There is a contemporary song that describes this powerful truth. Part of the chorus… sung as one looking back on the road of life, says…
"Scars and struggles on the way, But with joy our hearts can say, Never once… did we ever walk alone, Never once did You leave us on our own, You are faithful, God, You are faithful."
As we walk through this valley…as a family, as a community, and as a nation, let us each one choose to not walk the journey alone. Embrace the healing, comfort and strength that God offers to you… Embrace your faith community and allow them to care for you… Embrace your family and friends and draw strength from their presence…
And in our context…embrace your battle buddies…your leadership…your brothers and sisters in arms…and choose to never walk alone.
To the families of Daniel, Carlos, and Timothy…you are forever a part of our Army family…we love you…we are standing with you…you will never walk alone.
Let us pray…
O God as we bring this ceremony to a close, we find strength in the fact that your love and support is never closed to us in our time of need. In the days ahead, we pray that you may lift up our hearts, restore our joy of life and living, and grant us the wisdom to resurrect our purpose and discover new meaning from the ashes of these dark days. Bless us with a spirit that can forgive in due season. Shine upon us the divine light that is true, good, noble, and pure so that we may heal and be healers in this time of great sadness. In your Holy Name we pray, Amen.