For God and Country

By Chaplain (Captain) Michael L. White, CONUS Replacement Center Chaplain

Most everyone in the Army is aware that the Army was actually established on 14 June 1775, the year prior to our nation’s Declaration of Independence. However, the number is far fewer who know that the Army Chaplain Corps was established next, just a few weeks after the Army, on 29 July 1775. The Navy wasn’t organized until 13 October 1775, and the Navy Chaplain Corps followed on 28 November 1775.

Today [29 July 2005], as every year, Army chaplains Army-wide are celebrating our heritage and history. Ft. Benning chaplains are gathered for this annual Organizational Day picnic at the Uchee Creek Lodge and Recreational Area. There will be a special program of commemoration to kick things off, lots of fun activities for the kids, a softball tournament (chaplains against chaplain assistants – chaplains rule!), a cake-cutting ceremony (the youngest/newest chaplain and chaplain assistant gets the honor of assisting the Installation Chaplain), and, of course, lots of delicious barbeque, baked beans, and potato salad.

While all this is very exciting and enjoyable, we need to remind ourselves, however, that we are able to celebrate like this because of the service and sacrifice of so many who have gone before us. Chaplain (Major General) David Hicks, the Army Chief of Chaplains, wrote in his July 2005, newsletter, “In the 20th century alone, a total of 124 chaplains gave their lives in service to this nation.” Truly, these chaplains – and a large number of chaplain assistants, as well – rendered a very valuable service and made the ultimate sacrifice “For God and Country”. That phrase is the English translation of the Latin motto of the Army Chaplain Corps, “Pro Deo et Patria”. I think it says it all.

From 29 July 1775, to 29 July 2005, Army chaplains and chaplain assistants continue to serve for God and country. Happy Birthday fellow chaplains and chaplain assistants, and may God’s grace, mercy, love, joy, and peace be with us all. Amen!