Fort Huachuca, Arizona -- The Religious Services Office hosted "The Power of Hope" National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 23 at Thunder Mountain Activity Centre.

The event featured the Military Intelligence Corps Band and several special guests to begin the morning's event.

Ruth Keene Burgess read Psalms 46 to the crowd.

Chap. (Capt.) Angel Perez, battalion chaplain, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (USAICoE), offered the Prayer for the Nation.

Chap. (Maj.) Kurt O'Donnell, garrison chaplain, gave a Prayer for the Armed Forces.

Elder Earl Phippen, missionary, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said a Prayer for the Leaders.

Chap. (Maj.) William Martin, Army ethicist, HHC, USAICoE, said a Prayer for Fort Huachuca and Sierra Vista.

Chap. (Maj.) Joseph Vieira III, battalion chaplain, 2-13th Aviation Regiment, said a Prayer for the Family Members.

After the prayers, Chap. (Col.) Kevin Weston, installation staff chaplain, introduced Chap. (Col.) James Palmer Jr., command chaplain, U.S. Training and Doctrine command, as the guest speaker from Fort Eustis, Virginia.

"Our research team did not too look far, Chaplain Palmer's name was unanimously suggested from the team to impart words of encouragement," Weston said. "After various positive reviews of this man from around the table. The question was asked of me, 'Sir, do you know him. Have you heard of him?'

"I smiled and joined with a resounding answer of 'yes.' I have known my friend for over 32 plus years and his wife for over 40 plus years. Chaplain Palmer does what is right legally, morally and spiritually, while adhering to the core values of the Army as he honors his God. He respects and nurtures his Family and Soldiers entrusted in his care for their spiritual growth."

"First of all, let me say good morning," Palmer said. "I've had an opportunity to speak at several events but I can tell you that I've never received an introduction like that. The pressure is on.

"I am honored that the team decided to select me to serve as your guest speaker this morning. I count this an honor to be here at Fort Huachuca and to be a part of the community for today. But ask that you would stay with me, I'm going to try and take you somewhere."

Palmer then told the story from the Bible about Gideon from a U.S. Army perspective.

Palmer said Gideon as a general "receives word from the Divine Department of the Army -- God -- that a decision has been made that he has to downsize his army. Imagine serving as the commanding general, you started off with 32,000 soldiers and now your end strength is 300. All of us who know the story know that Gideon was commanded to attack at night and with God's help, Gideon and his 300 soldiers were able to defeat the Midianites.

"If there is anything that this story should do for us today, it ought to give us hope. And that's really what I want to talk about this morning, the power of hope.

"I tell you when we lose hope, we are open to being exploited," Palmer said. "When we lose hope, we do things that we normally would not do. We look for things that give us a temporary fix. When we lose hope, we become victims of a confused and chaotic world. In all of this, it makes me realize more and more that people need something to hang on to, to cling on to. Some glimmer of hope that things will get better.

"What is hope? Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire that something will happen. Hope is the strong belief that circumstances in the future will get better. It's not a wish for things to get better, it is a strong belief that circumstances will get better in the future," Palmer explained.

"When we are discouraged, hope lifts our spirit. When we are tempted to quit and to throw in the towel, hope keeps us going. When we struggle with life-threatening diseases like cancer, hope helped us persevere beyond the pain. When we must endure the consequences of bad decisions, hope fuels recovery. When people find themselves unemployed, hope says I still have a future. When we feel rejected and abandoned, hope reminds us that I'm not alone."

Palmer illustrated this point with a story about a little league baseball game.

"A man went to a little league baseball game and he arrived late, so he asked the little boy in the dugout what the score was. The young boy responded, '18 to nothing, and we are behind.'
'Boy,' said the man. 'I bet you all are discouraged.'

'Why should I be discouraged?' replied the young boy. 'We haven't even gotten up to bat yet.'
"That's expectation. That's what I call hope."

Palmer continued on with words of encouragement.

"We must not cease to hope, we must continue to live our dreams, our lives, to love and to be loved. We must continue to hope. We must rise above life's greatest challenges. We must believe that in this confused, chaotic and complex world that our future and that our circumstances will get better.

"Someone once said that 'Every problem has two handles -- you can grab it by the handle of fear or you can grab it by the handle of hope.' Where there is no hope for the future, there is no power for the present."

Col. Whit Wright, garrison commander, thanked Palmer and shared a story of hope and courage he witnessed from a Fort Huachuca Honor Guard Soldier's actions. He presented Palmer with a Buffalo Soldier statue as a token of appreciation for being the guest speaker, along with special guests from the Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers.

Abdennabi Benchehda gave the benediction to close the event.