For Those Who Serve
I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had served in the military. I wanted to for a while. My brother had been a cadet at a military academy and I dreamed of marching in his footsteps (sailing would be more like it—I wanted to go to Annapolis, not West Point). Of course I wanted to be a priest too, for a time. Eventually I ended up wanting to be what I turned out to be, a writer.
Still, the military has always been close to my heart, as it is with so many of you out there, whether you know someone who is serving or maybe you yourself have served.
So I was honored and thrilled earlier this month to speak on the National Day of Prayer at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, just south of Washington, at the invitation of Colonel Jim King of the Chaplain Corps, and sign copies of my book, The Promise of Hope: How True Stories of Hope and Inspiration Changed My Life and How They Can Transform Yours.
It was a breakfast event held at the officers’ club with a panoramic view of the misty Potomac. Just as I got there I saw two eagles soaring above the river, appearing and disappearing in the swirling banks of fog. I felt happily upstaged. Nothing I would say or do could possibly top that sight. I could relax.
I received a wholly underserved introduction full of praise and gratitude for my work at Guideposts and in turn told the 200 or so attendees that it was certainly not I who deserved such encomia but they themselves and their families for their service to our country. I only hoped I could adequately represent the readers and their respect and support for our military.
I’ve visited a number of Army bases and military hospitals in my time at Guideposts, and I have to say I really love the Army. Guideposts has a wonderful relationship with Army chaplains through our military outreach program. With your support we supply millions of books and magazines to our women and men in uniform and, just as importantly, to their families. Serving in war, as the chaplains tell me, is really, really tough on families. I can only imagine.
And I believe that the Army loves Guideposts in return. I always feel welcomed and at home visiting a base. In fact I feel blown away by the warmth and hospitality. I know warmth is not necessarily a quality one thinks of when considering the Army, but it’s what I feel. Maybe it’s because I’m a little in awe of those who serve. Maybe I feel like I missed a chance.
So I am here to tell you that because of your support and the unstinting work of military chaplains, many soldiers and their families read Guideposts. It is how we serve those who serve.
Just a final note: I’m amazed at how beautifully integrated the armed services are, by gender, race, ethnicity and creed. If you wish to see America, look at the military.
Again, I want to give a big shoutout to Chaplain King and his team for inviting me. It was an honor and a privilege and truly unforgettable. Remember, if you want to post a prayer for our military, go to OurPrayer. It’s one sure way we can all serve.
I find it hard to believe that God could contrive a paradise that would be missing some of our best friends.
Not everyone is going to agree with every pope or everything a particular pope says. But can’t we all agree to treat each other with civility?