Thursday, July 3, 2008

a speech from my bro to his troops in iraq

tomorrow (the 4th of july) my brother jason, a lieutenant colonel in the army, will deliver the following speech to his troops in iraq:

JULY 4th Prayer Luncheon, FOB HAMMER, IRAQ, 2008

Thank you chaplain…

A rider on horseback, many years ago, came upon a squad of soldiers who were trying to move a heavy piece of timber. A Corporal stood by, giving lordly orders to "heave." But the piece of timber was a trifle too heavy for the squad.

“Why don't you help them?" asked the quiet man on the horse, addressing the important corporal "Me? Why, I'm a corporal sir!" Dismounting, the stranger carefully took his place with the soldiers.

“Now, all together boys---heave!" he said. And the big piece of timber slid into place. The stranger mounted his horse and addressed the corporal.

"The next time you have a piece of timber for your men to handle, corporal, send for the commander-in-chief."

That horseman was George Washington, then General of the Army.

Independence Day Celebrations brings to mind many fond memories for all of us-I'm sure that in this room, many of you can think back to cookouts in the park, waterskiing on the lake, and enjoying the fireworks under the stars-always a gathering of family and friends fondly reflecting on the freedoms earned for us beginning with the original DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, July 4th 1776.

It is my honor to join with you today, this Independence Day 2008. Working as your BCT XO,
I am afforded the chance to come in contact with so many of you-so many different folks making different and important contributions to the IRON BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM; your talents come together to truly put the TEAM in BCT!

On the screen behind me, I draw your attention to a painting many of you may have seen before, it is a painting by Arnold Friberg titled "Prayer at Valley Forge."

The Story of Valley Forge is a Soldier's story of blood and gusto. It is a story of "near naked Soldiers wrapped in thin blankets huddled around a smoky fire of green wood." It was believed that conditions were so bad that "the plaintive chant from the starving: We want meat!
We want meat!" echoed throughout the camp. These indeed are the indelible images of Valley Forge...of suffering...but also of endurance.

While our great mess sergeants and our KBR partners ensure that our Soldiers aren't having to chant, "we want meat, we want meat," we do face our own challenges and relative privations here in Iraq in 2008.

So how did the Soldiers and their leader, GEN George Washington survive through the harsh winter of 1777-1778 encamped on the banks of the Delaware River in Valley Forge. For GEN Washington and many of the Soldiers, they drew strength from their belief in God and their
connection with him through prayer and through their belief in their mission-their fight for freedom. I trust that you enjoyed the IRAQI National Anthem video that helps to capture the effort of so many fine Iraqi Security Forces fighting their own “REVOLUTIONARY WAR.”

Allow me now to share with you a prayer attributed to George Washington, one he wrote during that harsh winter some 230 years ago:


Almighty God, Father of All Men:

To Thee we raise thankful hearts for deliverance from forces of evil...Deliver us also, we beseech Thee, from the greater danger of ourselves, Have mercy upon us and forgive us for our part in the present desolation of the world.

Awake us each time to a sense of responsibility in saving the world from ruin. Open our minds and eyes and hearts to the desperate plight of millions. Arouse us, from indifference into action. Let none of us fail to give his utmost in sympathy, understanding, thought, and effort.

Fulfill in us-- and through us Thy glorious intention: that Thy peace, Thy love, and Thy justice may enter into the regeneration of the world.

In our Father’s name, AMEN.

(This prayer, attributed to George Washington, is said to have been written by him on Christmas at Valley Forge. Copied from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.)


Many years ago, then President Ronald Reagan commented on the "Prayer of Valley Forge" - I quote: "The most sublime picture in American history is of George Washington on his knees in the snow at Valley Forge. That image personifies a people who know that it's not enough to depend on our own courage and goodness; we must also seek help from God, our father and preserver."

(Ronald Reagan, commenting on a painting that is well-known to be a work of fiction, on the National Day of Prayer, May 6, 1982 (Dallas Morning News: June 11, 2004)


As you go about your days and nights her in Iraq, take time out-in the mornings, prior to patrols, before you go to bed-whenever, to seek that help from your God, your preserver, your strength. May you be strengthened-to move out on your daily missions to bring peace and security to the good people of Iraq, just as the young Soldier recruits of GEN George Washington's day made their historic crossing of the Delaware River and fought the hard fight against tyranny, oppression and for FREEDOM.

Again, thank you all for joining us this afternoon.

May God bless you all, May God bless our Armed Forces and May God Bless America.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Thank you very much for sharing your brother's moving speech. it is the first time that i have seen the "Prayer at Valley Forge" image. such a powerful painting in remembrance of america's birthday!