By Staff Sgt. Joel Pena February 28, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- More than 300 Soldiers and civilians gathered Feb. 20 at the Commons to build spiritual resilience and participate in Fort Drum's Annual National Prayer Breakfast observance.
The National Prayer Breakfast is a longstanding tradition in the United States and around the world. In 1942, members of Congress started prayer breakfast groups to discuss their individual daily spiritual needs and the country's dependency on God.
Congress, along with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, established the first "Presidential Prayer Breakfast" in 1953 to seek divine guidance for the national leadership and to reaffirm faith and dependence on God. In 1970, the name was officially changed to the "National Prayer Breakfast."
Since then, men and women in the military have gathered together for their own prayer breakfasts around the same time as the National Prayer Breakfast, which is held in Washington, D.C., in early February.
Fort Drum's prayer breakfast began with remarks by Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander, and an invocation by Chaplain (Capt.) Steven Ridah, 277th Aviation Support Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Laughter filled the air as attendees were treated to a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, diced potatoes and biscuits.
During breakfast, the crowd listened attentively as chaplains from across the division prayed for the nation, the division's leadership and for Soldiers and their Families.
After Scripture readings of Joshua 1:8-10 and Psalms 46:1-7, Chaplain (Capt.) Tarri King, chaplain for 3-10 General Support Aviation Battalion,10th Combat Aviation Brigade, played her guitar for the crowd while singing a couple of well-known Christian songs.
Guest speaker Chaplain (Lt. Col.) John L. Kallerson, 10th Mountain Division chaplain, used a passage from Joshua 1 as the basis of his uplifting message, which he titled "Faith for uncertain times."
He said Soldiers more than anyone understand the cost of war, because they live it and they have to prepare for it.
"For Soldiers, the ultimate uncertainty is combat," Kallerson said. "You have no idea what's coming, and even if you've been in it in one place before, you don't know what's coming next."
Joshua had faith that the God in whom he trusted was going to be with him no matter what uncertainty lay before him, he continued.
God told Joshua in Joshua 1:9, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go," Kallerson noted.
In the same way, "He will be with every one of us," he added.
"My prayer for you is that you be strengthened with the faith that's going to help you through all the uncertainties of life," Kallerson concluded. He then prayed for every Soldier present.
After an extended applause, Chaplain (Maj.) Jerry Johnson, 10th Sustainment Brigade chaplain, honored the general and Kallerson, by presenting them with "The Four Chaplains Plaque."
The four chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the "Immortal Chaplains," were U.S. Army chaplains who gave their lives to save civilian and military personnel during the sinking of the troop USAT Dorchester on Feb. 3, 1943, during World War II.
They helped other Soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.
The prayer breakfast concluded with the benediction given by Chaplain (Maj.) Kim Suk, Division Family Life Center chaplain.