My occasionally snarky thoughts on everything from motherhood, politics, life and current events. Cocktails are sometimes mandatory. Bottoms up!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Soldiers Chapel

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...50th anniversary

This is where I was married 10+ years ago. Lone Mountain stands behind the Chapel and always seemed to me to represent stregnth and permanence. The Billings Gazette had an interesting story the other day about the founders of Soldiers Chapel and the history there.

Chapel for 'immortal soldiers'
Associated Press

BIG SKY - The fighting was long and bloody. The diseases were even worse.

Hundreds of young Montana soldiers had been shipped to the jungles of New Guinea early in 1942, sent there to repel the advances of the Japanese army, which had set its sights on Australia. The Montanans did the job, halting the Imperial Army in its tracks.

"We were young. We were well-conditioned. We were tough," said Fred
Naegele, a sergeant in the 163rd Infantry, Montana National Guard.

But victory came at a terrible cost. If a knife or bullet didn't
find you, biological threats were constant. Malaria, dengue fever, scrub typhus
and black water fever were constant threats. Everybody fell sick at some point,
said Naegele, who now lives in Helena.

Morale was low, and the men needed a lift. One day, an officer walked by a group of men as one of them offered lessons from the Bible. The men were attentive. The speaker was effective.

The officer was Col. Nelson Story III. Story, a Bozeman resident and a descendant of one of Montana's earliest pioneer families, remembered the incident. And he remembered his son, Nelson Story IV, who had fallen in combat early in the war.

Years later, those memories took shape here in the Soldiers Chapel, the quietly elegant little church with a remarkable view of Lone Mountain. Story donated the land, came up with the basic design, wrote the charter and donated most of the money to build the stone-and-log cruciform structure, which was completed in 1955.

It is dedicated to Nelson Story IV and to the outfit in which father and son served
together, the 163rd Infantry.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform fighting this war on terror. First, Harvey at Bad Example posted an email from the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Word can't put into words the loss of my son but I will always remember the
passion with which he embraced life and lived it to the fullest. He was born
to be what he became. One of our nations fallen Hero's. Loving and
remembering you everyday. See Ya Later Son!

Your Loving Mother
Paula A Spivey

What can a person say to a Gold Star mother? Thank you? May God grant you peace? I believe in the cause your son was fighting for? It all seems too little but I offer her both thanks and a hope for peace. And I do believe in the cause.

Then both SMASH and Blackfive linked another Milblogger Chuck at TC Override who had been wounded in a IED attack in Iraq (Chuck's wife Carren is posting updates on his condition.)

In general... Chuck sustained shrapnel wounds to his legs and arms from an IED. He and an Iraqi civilian were the only ones injured. The Good Lord above was looking out for him in a BIG way! He is probably in Landstuhl (sp?), Germany by now and will be back in the states in the next week to 10 days (as far as I know right now). He still has his eyesite and has not sustained internal injuries that I know of. I have not talked to him yet... they have kept him sedated for his trip to Germany, as well as for pain management. He also has some injuries to his face, but I think it is just bruised/scratched up quite a bit.

[Ed.]...As you know I told Creighton that his daddy was hurt and that he will be okay and coming home soon. One of the questions he asked was, "Why did Daddy have to go so far away to get the bad guys?" I said, "Daddy had to go far away to fight the bad guys so we are safe here in the US. We don't want the bad guys to be here in our country, so brave men and women like Daddy go far away to make sure that never happens." (A side note... a 5 year old is too young to understand that bad guys are here in the US and managed to do some serious
damage on 9/11).

Where is our Main Stream Media Coverage of fine soldiers like these? And I'm sorry -- just reading a list of names (in order to further stress the sheer number of wounded or killed) doesn't count. When did the MSM forget thet it is the TERRORISTS that are the bad guys and not our soldiers at GITMO or anywhere else?

Sorry to digress. The article on Soldiers Chapel continues:

The edifice is designed to honor the sacrifices of America's military men. Story
made sure of that when he wrote the charter. A stained glass window, designed by a 163rd veteran, Sgt. Jack C. Gunter, depicts a wounded soldier lying on a
tropical beach, reaching out for the hand of God. Outside the front door stands
a memorial plaque, listing the scores of 163rd members from Montana who died in the war. "Those immortal soldiers of the 163rd Infantry who, with courage
and devotion, died in pain defending their country and the cause of freedom for
all men," is how the plaque describes them.

The church is nondenominational, with pastors from a variety of regional churches leading services during the summer and fall. This, too, is in keeping with Story's wishes, although he took pains to "preserve the quality of religion." A 1955 letter he wrote outlining his plans called for avoiding "splinter sects, itinerant prophets, hillbilly Bible thumpers and the self-anointed." He also urged the exclusion of "groups which harbor conscientious objectors or refuse to salute the flag."
Giving them access to the church, he said, "would be a grave affront to the memory of those to whom the chapel will be dedicated."

All sacrifice time, some sacrifice health, and others sacrifice all. And I thank all of them for having the courage to volunteer themselves in order to keep our homeland safe and promote freedom and democracy in places those ideas seemed impossible to achieve. May they all feel the peace that I have felt sitting in a pew looking west onto Lone Mountain. A peace granted me by other brave soldiers. Thank you.