Soldiers strengthen spiritual resiliency by reflecting on those who impacted their lives
November 2, 2012
Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind. -- Soldiers focused on the meaning of life during the 205th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, quarterly prayer breakfast held at King Hall Dining Facility, Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., Oct. 29.
"Why do we remember those who died in service to the nation or to God," Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Lozano, 205th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, asked the group, "out of duty, obligation, necessity; out of fear; out of desire â€¦
"We keep the memory alive, because the memory -- to us as individuals or collectively -- is important to us," answered Lozano.
Units and posts throughout the Army participate in prayer breakfasts as part of the Army's overall religious support plan to strengthen the spiritual resiliency of Soldiers, Lozano said
During the meal, Soldiers, Family members, and Camp Atterbury civilians prayed together before considering Lozano's request to write the names of three people who gave their live meaning on a small, white, piece of paper.
"Now the first person who came to my mind, when I thought of this, came because of how someone else described this small woman -- a shark -- the woman was Mother Teresa," Lozano said. "She was called a shark because of her ability -- to connect those with resources to those without and to motivate the resourceful -- think wealth, connections, talent -- with the poor."
The second person on the chaplain's list was a young specialist diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer, whose determination to become a noncommissioned officer like many in his family before him, inspired those around him.
"I visited him again at Walter Reed when they amputated this rest of his leg. He was down, but not out. He was going to get better. He was going to learn to walk. He was going to continue to serve in uniform. He was going to become an NCO and do his nation and his family proud," Lozano continued. "An hour before he drew his last breath Maj. Gen. Karol Kennedy promoted Spc. Adams to the rank of sergeant. He had made it. And those who encountered this young sergeant experienced something about what life and death means."
It was Viktor Frankl's attitude towards suffering that was Lozano's final example. Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, survived the beatings, malnutrition, and starvation of one of the Nazi ghetto Theresienstadt and several concentration camps only to lose the one thing that had given him hope -- his wife, Tilly, who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
"For in some ways, suffering ceases to be suffering the moment it finds meaning," Lozano said quoting Frankl, before he asked everyone to look at the names on their piece of papers. "How do these individuals -- these saints -- who you have named bring meaning to their lives and to yours?"
Chaplin Lozano's message resonated with 1st Lt. Christopher Blair, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5-113th Field Artillery Regiment, a National Guard unit from N.C. training with the 205th Infantry Brigade for its mission as Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai.
First on his list was his wife: Santa Virginia Blair.
"Her first name means 'saint' in Spain," said Blair. "She's the one who brought me back to my faith; her love and guidance brought me back to God."
And it's been that faith that has helped the family as they've struggled for more than a year through red-tape and bureaucracy to bring their adoptive daughter, Marianna, home from the Dominican Republic. The deployment is almost a Godsend, said Blair. It allowed Santa to quit her job and stay in the Dominican Republic with Marianna and the couple's two sons until the paperwork issues can be resolved.
"I have been living by faith," Blair said. "There's no other way to live."
For Capt. Christopher Boehm, the protocol officer for the Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 205th Infantry Brigade, and his wife Melinda, it was their son, one year old Phoenix.
"Something about the combination of the love of your life and the new love of your life allows you to see things in a new light," said Melinda, who is finishing her doctorate in medical sociology.
Melinda said it is the grace of family and friends, of her husband who supports her in continuing her studies even when it means driving five and a half hours to Cleveland, Ohio twice a week, that gives her the strength to continue.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Walters wrote his high school math teacher, Mr. Luscher on his paper.
"He was the first teacher who encouraged me to live up to my potential," Walters said.
Units and posts throughout the Army participate in prayer breakfasts as part of the Army's overall religious support plan to strengthen the spiritual resiliency of Soldiers, Lozano said.
"We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses," Lozano said. "And here's something to think about, could it be you have been named by someone else in this room -- as one who brings meaning to their lives by your life?"