Fort McCoy News Nov. 27, 2015

Post honors Veterans Day with prayer luncheon

Public Affairs Staff

Service and responsibility were themes of the Fort McCoy Veterans Day Prayer Luncheon, held Nov. 5 at McCoy's Community Center.

Garrison Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ike Eweama began the luncheon with the welcome and invocation. A Fort McCoy Family member sang the national anthem, and Karen Birkeness of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security played the keyboard and led hymns. Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Dryer with the Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy spoke in recognition of veterans and Veterans Day.

Photo 1
The Rt. Rev. William J. Lambert, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eau
Claire, Wis., and retired Navy chaplain, gives his presentation during the
Fort McCoy Veterans Day Prayer Luncheon.
Photos by Scott T. Sturkol

Photo 2
Staff Sgt. Todd R. Cornell Noncommissioned Officer Academy Commandant Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Dryer recognizes the contributions of military veterans.

Photo 3
A Fort McCoy Family member sings the national anthem to begin the luncheon.

Photo 4
Karen Birkeness, supervisory visual information specialist with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, plays piano and sings as she leads a musical number.

"Our nation truly owes a debt to its veterans. Their service spans every decade (since 1775) and continues every day of our country's existence," Dryer said. "Through untold courage and sacrifice, America's veterans have secured the liberty the founding fathers sought to establish here in the new world."

Dryer asked how Americans can thank veterans for their service and accomplishments. "It's very simple," he said. "Americans thank their veterans by continuing to live their lives and enjoying America's greatness."

The guest speaker was the Rt. Rev. William J. Lambert, bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Eau Claire, Wis., and retired Navy chaplain. Lambert shared his thoughts on personal and corporate responsibility to a crowd of about 120 Fort McCoy community members.

"When I say corporate, I'm not talking about business," Lambert said. "Corporate means the whole, the common good, the community as a whole.

"In the United States, we understand individual responsibility," he said. "We don't do as well with corporate responsibility, particularly in our day and time."

He said it's sometimes easy to dismiss an issue if someone has no personal involvement, using as an example the Black Lives Matter movement, which sprung up in the wake of multiple police-involved deaths of black men across the country.

"From an individual perspective, I want to say, 'Well, I don't have anything to do with this issue. I have my life, and I obey the law. And if I don't obey the law, I will pay some penalty for it, and that's it,'" Lambert said. "But from a corporate perspective, there's a house burning down in the neighborhood. Can't we do something about it?"

Veterans and service members, he said, are an exception.

"We in the military understand corporate responsibility as no other part of our society does," Lambert said.

He shared the story of a master gunnery sergeant who, in his retirement, relied more on the support of "his boys," the younger Marines he helped train and taught to survive in the Korean and Vietnam wars, than on his own daughters. His boys, he'd told Lambert, understood what he'd been through and how to help.

He said the story illustrated how corporate life works in the military.

"We are not responsible just for ourselves. We're responsible for one another," Lambert said.

Prayers were offered for veterans, the nation, the world, and leaders by Pastor Jeff Skinner of Gospel Baptist Church in Sparta, Wis., who also serves as chaplain to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office; the Rev. Peter Augustine of St. John's Lutheran Church in Sparta; Pastor Mark Clements of Living Word Christian Church in La Crosse, Wis., and head chaplain of the La Crosse Area Law Enforcement Chaplaincy; and Chaplain (Col.) Robert Pleczkowski of the Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains.

Birkeness said she was happy to lead the music for the luncheon.

"I consider it a blessing to have been invited to participate in the Veterans Day Prayer Luncheon," Birkeness said. "Any time that people gather to pray and honor our veterans is a blessing."

For more information about the Veterans Day Prayer Luncheon and the Religious Support Office's services, call 608-388-3528.