FORT HOOD, Texas - According to history books, the stole ceremony is among the oldest known rituals. Clergy members wore stoles- a band of cloth draped over the shoulders- as symbols of their leadership responsibility.

Accepting this symbol, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Barbara Sherer relieved Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Steven Walsh as the 1st Cavalry Division's head spiritual leader during a changing A,A!of the A,A!stole ceremony held at the division's memorial chapel May 20.

"For generations American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and (Department of the Army) civilians have taken the heart of America with them wherever they go. It's not as if they are paid to be concerned about strangers or that taking care of people falls into their job description, it's simply the kind of people we are," Walsh said during the ceremony. "So much so, that kindness and compassion have become a proud part of our military tradition and our reputation as a fighting force. It is what we in the First Team call the 'Cav spirit.'

"It doesn't matter what patch, uniform, part of the military or even what country you come from, the 'Cav spirit' is found wherever men and women of peace and goodwill take their stand against evil," added Walsh. "It is a vision that sees a better world and then sacrifices to build it. It is strength of character that defeats an enemy - a resolve of will that overcomes all challenges and a quiet integrity that chooses the hard right over the easy wrong."

Walsh returned the stole to Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger of Aurora, Ill., the division's commanding general, who in turn reinvested the symbol of responsibility onto the shoulders of the new chaplain.

In receiving this sacred symbol, Sherer, a native of Springfield, Mo., acknowledged and accepted her new role, which she described as, "somewhat daunting."

She said she was reminded of the history and tradition that comes with the cavalry as she sat at worship last Sunday and took in the atmosphere of the sanctuary located on Battalion Avenue.

"Seeing the names on these walls, and hearing literally hundreds of others read aloud last Friday (at the Operation Iraqi Freedom memorial rededication), it's almost overwhelming to be faced with the responsibility for religious support to the great troopers and their families of the First Team," Sherer said. "And it would be overwhelming if I faced this alone. Thankfully, I do not.

"We have a team and that team is growing. It's like the mustard seed mentioned in the Bible, which starts as the tiniest of all seeds, but when planted grows into a great hulking bush. And that bush grows greater and stronger as we open ourselves to the spirit of God moving in our midst."

For those leaving this team, the newly-appointed spiritual leader gave thanks. And for those "few of us who currently make up the nucleus, the seed, of the new team... we are going to have a great time," she said.

"So no matter what the future holds, no matter how grim the fight, know this: the 'Cav spirit' lives on in the hearts of courageous men and women everywhere who answer the call to freedom wherever there are the innocent in need of protection, the weak who need to be defended and huddled masses who yearn to be liberated," said Walsh, who has spent the last two and a half years serving the men and women of the combat-proven division.

Walsh, an ordained minister and doctor of the Presbyterian (USA) Church, and his family, wife Lisa, 12-year-old daughter Caitlyn and 3-year-old son Joseph, will be moving to San Antonio to continue their mission serving Soldiers in uniform.