By Theresa Fitzgerald, Fort McCoy Public Affairs November 26, 2012
FORT McCOY, Wis. -- A Veterans Day Prayer luncheon at Fort McCoy began with the national anthem performed a capella by Dana Tock.
The event, held Nov. 8, featured guest speaker retired Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Cecil Richardson, as well as other music performed by Tock and a slide show of Soldiers training on Fort McCoy set to a background of music performed by country artist D.J. Danner.
"The purpose of a prayer luncheon, of course, is prayer. That will be my focus today," said Richardson, retired Air Force Chief of Chaplains.
"Thank you. Thank you for who you are. Thank you for what you did. Thank you for what you do and have done for your country. Thank you most of all, today, for taking time to attend this prayer luncheon."
Richardson related a tale of jogging one day, while still on active duty, and of being "attacked" by a 5-year-old boy playing war. Responding as if a child again, he played war with the child until he remembered he was the Chief of Chaplains. He reminisced about his days as a child when he and his friends loved to play war, cops and robbers and cowboys and Indians.
Death and dying, shooting and killing was a game as a kid. But death and dying is not a joking matter, not when standing in bombed out buildings, uniforms saturated with blood, or when holding the hand of those about to take their last breath, Richardson said.
"Times like this lead to prayer. How do you pray when terrorists attack, how do you pray when sitting on an airplane and the guy next to you is wearing a bomb in his underwear, how do you pray when a hurricane destroys your home? How do you pray when shot in the emotional gut? I don't have the answers but the (Bible) does."
"You don't learn to pray at church; you learn when you are desperate and don't have anywhere to go. You learn when you are in panic, broken; you learn what faith and prayer are all about."
Richardson also referenced the Old Testament, 2 Chronicles, Chapter 20. He told of an army about to face a much larger, stronger army, and the soldiers were tired and discouraged with nowhere to turn.
"The army turned to God and prayed, -- Lord we don't know what to do, but our eyes are on you -- their prayers, full of passion and heart, were answered by God," he said.
He also shared personal stories of his journey to faith and a life of service to God and country. God answers prayers, so jog into the arms of God on Veterans Day, he said.
Lt. Col. Rich Harvey, garrison deputy commander, gave a brief history of Veterans Day, commemorating the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, 1918, which signified the end of World War I.
Garrison Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Allen Raub of the Religious Support Office recognized veterans in the audience who have served in the armed forces during past wars, peacekeeping missions, recent and current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and responded to natural disasters.
The end of the program concluded with prayers for the nation, prayers for veterans and prayers for military Families.
At the conclusion of the event, veterans were asked to come to the front, and guests exiting the event thanked them for their service.