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Remember the guys(&gals) in Foxholes

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Since USA Today seems to be a popular source these days I though I'd post this op-ed piece published today. It is a sobering reminder to the rest of us as we head into a holiday weekend more often regarded as the unofficial start of summer than Memorial Day. Among other activies planned for the weekend, I'll be with the Troop I serve, in our town's annual Memorial Day Parade.




"Remember the guys(&gals) in Foxholes"


One evening, a casualty officer and I drove down the road on our way to inform a soldier's spouse that her husband had died in Iraq. As an Army chaplain, I thought about how difficult it would be for this young mother and how empty the two children's' lives would be without their dad.


On our way to the house, the casualty officer had assured me that he would be able to deliver the sad news. But when we got to our destination, his confidence disappeared. "Chaplain," he asked, "will you pray for me?" I placed my hand on his shoulder and began to pray. I asked God to give us the strength to perform our duty. I asked God to control our thoughts and actions and comfort the household we were about to enter. When I finished, we got out of the car and with great pain did the job that we were both called to do.


Memorial Day reminds us of the soldiers who gave their lives for our country. But often we forget to also honor the families they left behind.


Military chaplains guide soldiers and their families through the "Circle of Life" from births, baptisms, confirmations, marriage, illness to death. Our role is broader than a typical civilian minister's because we have to connect soldiers to God on a daily basis.


There was a time when I considered leaving the ministry. Then a friend asked me to join the military chaplaincy. It changed my life. The past year, I served as chaplain for a 600-soldier logistics battalion in Baghdad. Whoever said that "there are no atheists in the foxhole" was absolutely right. These soldiers had to deliver supplies along the most dangerous routes in Iraq. When bombs exploded, reality of war forced many to do some serious soul searching.


Countless soldiers came to talk to me about war, death and faith. They presented me with many perplexing theological questions: Is God on our side, and will he protect me from death? Will God forgive me if I kill an innocent person by mistake? Will God be angry with me for participating in this war? Exactly where do we really go when we die?


I am back home in the states now, a safe distance away from the death and war that challenge many servicemen and women in ways most people in our country will never fully understand.


This year, as we celebrate Memorial Day, we should pause as a nation from talk about high gas prices, what language our national anthem should be sung in and the latest celebrity gossip, and instead think about the men and women who continue to fight and die in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. It is true: War is hell, freedom is expensive, death is painful and faith still matters - especially to those in the foxhole.



Capt. James Key is a chaplain in the U.S. Army at Fort Irwin, Calif.



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Thank those who are currently serving for what they are doing!!! :)


Thanks those who are Veterans for what they did!!! :)


Honor those who fell ... for Memorial Day is to remember their sacrifice for us...




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At my sons graduation from Basic Training all veterans in the audiance were asked to stand. There was maybe a score or so of us, my Dad stood with me. The graduates then saluted us, got me tearing up in pride for those saluting and those I was standing with.


I now salute each and every veteran.


for those who stayed behind for us...

for those who came along with us....

for those who are going ahead for us...

Salute! and Thank You



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And a moment of silent prayer for the many, many former Boy Scouts who are serving in our armed forces around the world.


May the Great Scoutmaster keep them in the hollow of his hand.





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