Fort McCoy News June 14, 2013

Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon reflects on service

Public Affairs Staff

Selfless service was the focus for guest speaker retired Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Douglas E. Lee at a Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon at McCoy's Community Club, May 23.

From Minnesota, Lee is not a newcomer to the installation; the post has a deep place in his heart. He trained here during his time as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve since 1985. His father-in-law served in World War II and shipped out of Camp McCoy.

Photo for Memorial Day speaker
Retired Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Douglas E. Lee addresses the audience
at the Fort McCoy Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon.

Photo by Rob Schuette

Lee asked if anyone in the audience knew the Army Vision as stated in Field Manual 1, The Army. Having no takers, he told the audience that the Army's Vision was and has been for years, "Relevant and Ready Landpower in Service to the Nation," with the most important word in that statement being service.

His father, a World War II Navy veteran, didn't talk much about his service in the Pacific. Lee said when he did talk, he didn't talk about when he was in the Navy, but in the service; he didn't talk about his Sailor buddies or Seabees, but his service buddies. His mother also referred to that time as "their time in the service." Everyone knew that this was serving the country.

"I love that word service, especially in light of why we are meeting here today, Memorial Day," said Lee.

Lee explained the definition of service is to maintain and repair and, if you are in service, you are doing something related to maintaining and repairing.

"On a macro-level, what you do here at Fort McCoy, in or out of uniform, you are serving your country and defending liberty. On a micro-level, your specialized job/skill has something to do with maintenance and repair in service to this country. I love that word for that very definition," he said.

Lee quoted what Thomas Paine wrote about service in 1776, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer Soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Photo for Memorial Day Luncheon
Audience members at the Fort McCoy Memorial Day Prayer Luncheon
enjoy the program honoring service by current and past military
Photo by Rob Schuette

"As we move from this important word, service, to the memory of those who gave their all, their lives, in service to their country, I want to mention a few of America's fallen," Lee said.

Army Chaplain (Capt.) Emil Kapaun is the most-recent recipient of the Medal of Honor. The medal was awarded posthumously for Kapaun's service with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Calvary Division during the Korean War, where Kapaun distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty during combat operations against an armed enemy.

"I also want to mention Lance Cpl. Thomas Rivers. Rivers joined the Marines because he wanted to serve America. Rivers pulled his friend's duty, later perishing after stepping on a mine; he gave his life for his friends," Lee said.

"When my dad would talk about being a serviceman, he, and many like him, said they were in service to the nation. Serving one's country is an important duty; it is core of who we are. Thank you for service to our nation."

The prayer luncheon, sponsored by the Fort McCoy Religious Support Office, also featured music by Sparta-area musician Dana Tock and a brief history of Memorial Day, presented by Fort McCoy Garrison Commander, Col. Steven W. Nott.

(See related photos.)