Fort Drum community honors Haiti, gives aid
January 29, 2010
Soldiers, civilians and Family Members gathered Friday at Main Post Chapel to remember those who were killed or injured in Haiti's devastating earthquake and aftershocks.
Some came to pray for loved ones who were in Haiti, some made monetary donations and others showed their support through their presence at the service.
Several chaplains were present to lead attendees in prayer and to give guidance or counseling to anyone who needed it. The chaplains took turns reading prayers to the crowd.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kelly Moore, 10th Mountain Division chaplain, led the prayer vigil.
"It is with a heavy heart that we come to you this afternoon," Moore said. "Many here have questions such as, 'Why did this tragedy happen'' or 'How could a loving God allow this'' Lord, even in the midst of our questions, we humble ourselves before you and ask for your grace and mercy to rest upon Haiti. We ask that you would extend your mighty hand to restore what has been lost, destroyed and damaged."
"The Word teaches 'blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.' For each one losing loved ones, we now ask for Thy comfort. Grant to them the peace that is so desperately needed in this hour of loss. Allow the grieving process to be healthy and full, restoring those (who) are left to a life of joy," he added.
A slideshow displayed images of a ravaged Haiti. The chapel was silent as images flashed on the screen.
The events in Haiti hit close to home as well. Chaplain (Capt.) Frantzo Saint-Val, 2nd Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment (Assault) chaplain, was born south of Port-au-Prince and has family still in Haiti, right where the earthquake hit. He stood at the front of the chapel and shared how he felt.
"At first, I didn't know what to think; it wasn't real," said Saint-Val. "After a while, it sank in, and it was devastating. The most difficult part is not knowing for many days about my Family, because they are in the middle of it."
"I spent the next couple of days in total frustration. I was frustrated because I was unable to reach my Family back home. Communication was totally out for days. I was not sure what to think. Every hour that passed that I did not hear something only served to prolong my agony and added to my pain.
"In fact, my pain had gotten even more excruciating every time I heard about someone who has received some good news from their folks back home. I am sort of happy this or that person's family is OK, but what about my Family' Are they safe' Are they alive'" Saint-Val added. "Now I feel better knowing most of them are safe; the challenge is making sure they have a place to stay and something to eat."
He said he had sponsored his father's immigration some time back, but it's not a process that moves quickly. He wants to get more of his Family to the U.S., and he hopes the government can do something to expedite the process.
After Saint-Val's testimony, chaplain's assistants passed collection trays through the pews.
When the service concluded, a somber reception was held in the foyer of the chapel. People mingled for a while and then left quietly to carry out the rest of the day.