By Derek Gean (Leonard Wood)March 10, 2016
Hundreds of Fort Leonard Wood community members gathered Tuesday at Pershing Community Center with one common goal, "Strengthening the Warrior Soul," which served as the theme of the installation's observance of the 2016 National Prayer Breakfast.
With heads bowed, service members, Family members and Department of the Army civilians, used the event as an opportunity to exercise their faith and seek providential blessing upon themselves, the military, leadership and the government.
According to Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Doyle Coffman, the event began during World War II with a small number of Congressmen who met informally to give spiritual support and prayer to each other during trying times in war.
"Military installations (and) commands have followed that precedence of observing the National Prayer Breakfast to improve spiritual fitness and invoke divine favor for our mission in our national security," Coffman said.
Overtime, the observance expanded to include other traditions. "We recognize the diversity among religious and faith traditions, celebrating the gifts that God provides to us and to our country," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) James Paulson, community chaplain.
Installation chaplains led the participants in four separate prayers -- one for the nation, one for the president and Congress, one for the military and one for the community. Valerie Gallagher, accompanied by David McKay, provided special music, singing "The Prayer."
Chaplain (Col.) David Giammona, Installation Management Command chaplain, from Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, served as keynote speaker for the program. Giammona used the event as an opportunity to encourage the community to focus on spiritual readiness.
"I believe what you all do here, on a daily basis, is train for readiness," he said.
"Regulations say readiness is a three-legged stool. It incorporates your equipment, your personnel and your training. I want to tell you I believe that is short-sighted, I believe it really is a four-legged stool. That fourth leg is faith.
"When the bullets start flying and things are starting to happen on the battlefield and your training does kick in … if your faith fails at that time, you are in big trouble," Giammona said.
Giammona read scripture from Chapter 6 of the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, about how the prophet Isaiah was ready when the Lord called.
"Faith is the key component to what we are all about. Faith is the key to spiritual readiness. When you are scared and you are in combat and you are looking around for help, that is when faith really kicks in," Giammona said.
"We have to be ready mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Isaiah said send me, because Isaiah was ready. When God called, he went.
"Readiness, to me, is having the right relationship to God and having the knowledge of where we are. Sometimes we are so busy telling God where we would like to go." Giammona left the audience with three key concepts:
First, plan on it.
"Isaiah was ready to answer that call. When your nation calls you, I believe you will be ready. Plan on it. That call will come," he said.
Secondly, he encouraged everyone to have a spiritual readiness checklist.
"Take an internal inventory of where (you) are spiritually. Am I praying, seeking God, worshiping, reading those things we need to read?" he asked.
Finally, he said the best thing to do is be ready to make needed changes.
"The only person you can fix is you," he said. "What changes are needed in your life to be ready when the call is given?"
Following the speech, participants closed the ceremony in prayer, followed by a postlude from the 399th Army Band Brass Quintet.