Fort McCoy News June 10, 2016

Post community gathers for Memorial Day luncheon

BY AIMEE MALONE
Public Affairs Staff

Members of the Fort McCoy community gathered for lunch, music, and prayer May 26 at the 2016 Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon.

Father Michael Lightner with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee gives his presentation as the guest speaker.
Father Michael Lightner with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of
Milwaukee gives his presentation as the guest speaker during the Fort
McCoy Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon May 26 at McCoy's Community
Center.
Photo by Scott T. Sturkol


Karen Birkeness with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security plays a musical selection during the Fort McCoy Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon May 26 at McCoy’s Community Center.
Karen Birkeness with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization
and Security plays a musical selection.
Photo by Scott T. Sturkol

Fort McCoy Family member Marykristy Eweama sang the national anthem. Karen Birkeness, supervisory information specialist with Multimedia/Visual Information, led the community in renditions of Amazing Grace; America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee); God Bless America; and Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Father Michael Lightner of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee was the guest speaker.

He shared the story of his decision to join the seminary after playing college football, despite his ambitions for a professional football career.

He focused on the importance of controlling one's emotions, especially anger and fear, and related a Native American story to illustrate the choices people make that determine their paths.

A boy seeks advice from his grandfather, the medicine man of their tribe, about a pain in his chest. He describes the pain as two wolves, one good and one evil, constantly fighting. His grandfather says this is normal for a boy his age. Worried, the boy asks which wolf will win. His grandfather tells him that the wolf he decides to feed is the one that will win.

"We have a choice in life," Lightner said. The choice is whether to fight negative thoughts while they still exist only in a person's mind or to act on them and feed the "evil wolf."

He also spoke about the commonality of service members and clergy members. He said the story of the two wolves warring reminds him of an online video from a service member who spoke about the differences among sheep, sheepdogs, and wolves.

"Most of you are sheepdogs," Lightner said. "You protect the flock from the wolves … much like ministers protecting their flock from the world."

But sheepdogs also must guard themselves against becoming wolves and harming their flocks by giving in to their fears or temptations, he said.

"It can happen even in the priesthood," he said. "We've seen it in our era with priests, with ministers, (and) with teachers who have preyed on the people they're supposed to serve."

Installation community members sing along with one of the musical selections.
Installation community members sing along with one of the musical
selections
. Photo by Scott T. Sturkol

Area clergy members also offered prayers for military members, police officers, firefighters, their Families, and the nation and its leadership.

Terrence Rogalla, suicide-prevention program manager with the Army Substance Abuse Program, was one of the Fort McCoy community members who attended the luncheon. He said Lightner provided an excellent message to remember.

"Father Michael's story was incredible," Rogalla said. "It was so inspirational to hear about his unique journey in faith — a rather unorthodox journey at that."

Tim Hyma, executive director of the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce, visited the installation for the event and also enjoyed Lightner's presentation.

"His story was very moving for me," Hyma said. He said it helped him pinpoint some emotions he felt needed work in his own life.

The event was organized and hosted by the Fort McCoy Religious Support Office (RSO). For more information about RSO services and events, call 608-388-3528.