Fort McCoy News June 13, 2014

McCoy observes Memorial Day with prayer luncheon

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Remembering and never forgetting the sacrifices of those who died defending America's freedom was the overall message of the Fort McCoy Religious Support Office's (RSO) Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon May 22.

Photo for Memorial Day article
Rabbi Saul (Simcha) Prombaum, spiritual leader of Congregation Sons of Abraham in La Crosse, Wis., gives a presentation during the Fort McCoy Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon May 22 at McCoy's Community Club.

Garrison Commander Col. Steven W. Nott first reminded attendees to take a moment to remember the reasons behind Memorial Day before participating in other activities during the weekend.

"Before you go out, do something to remember the importance of Memorial Day," Nott said.

Nott was followed with a similar message from the guest speaker — Rabbi Saul L. Prombaum, spiritual leader of Congregation Sons of Abraham in La Crosse, Wis.

Prombaum's presentation was entitled, "Those Who Cannot Remember the Past … An Imaginary Conversation Between George Santayana and His Hebrew 101 Instructor." His presentation was infused with a bit of humor, but it also carried a serious undertone of "never forgetting."

Prombaum showed how different interpretations could be made by a Hebrew student of the famous quote by philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

He discussed forgetting and remembering and whether "repeating the message" helps with remembering. "Walking around in darkness is what happens when you forget," Prombaum said.

Prombaum added, "When people live in the dark, where the memories are slipping away, bad people can take advantage of others of those lapses in their memory. It's a scary thought isn't it?"

On a positive note, Prombaum said when a person has good memory and a history of things that have happened, they should proclaim it. "You have got to learn from history," he said.

Memorial Day is about getting together and talking about the people who have lived and "the people who gave their lives," Prombaum said.

He told service members that if someone thanks them for their service, they should tell that person thank you, and then tell them about someone who was influential in their decision to join the military.

"In that way, you are creating that human bridge," Prombaum said. "Someone gets a chance to thank you, but they are also learning from you, and that might change the way they think."

In conclusion, Prombaum said putting all the elements — remembering, focusing and proclaiming — together, and not forgetting, is especially important on Memorial Day to remember the sacrifices of those who gave their lives. "Put that at the top of the agenda (for the day)," he said.

In addition to the presentation, the luncheon included music provided by Dana Tock of Sparta, Wis., and prayers led by Master Sgt. Diane Mazyck of the U.S. Army Reserve Command and Col. Lawrence Mosley of the 88th Regional Support Command.

The RSO supports the religious needs of the Fort McCoy community. Call the RSO at 608-388-3528 for more information.