Traditions are something most people treasure. Some of them help keep Americans grounded and in touch with the ideals upon which the United States was formed. With the nation currently dealing with various crises at home and abroad, following traditions and a higher spiritual awareness seem more important to many people. Not even inclement weather on Tuesday could stop people from attending this year’s National Prayer Breakfast on Fort Huachuca.
In spite of snowfall on Monday and early Tuesday morning, which delayed the beginning of the work day on Tuesday, the annual National Prayer Breakfast was held a few hours later than originally scheduled at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre here. The theme of this year’s event was “The Healing Power of God.”
The annual National Prayer Breakfast has taken place in Washington D.C. every February since President Dwight Eisenhower held the first one in 1953. It has been held annually on Fort Huachuca since the early 1970s.
“Fort Huachuca follows that same tradition with an annual National Prayer Breakfast at about this time of year to provide a time of prayer and spiritual renewal for all of us, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Families and civilians” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ken Godfrey, garrison chaplain.
There are many reasons people frequent these prayer breakfasts. For some, it is as simple as the camaraderie associated with these events, and how the speakers always find a way to invigorate those in attendance, he said.
“I believe that it is spiritually vital to fellowship with other people of faith,” said Sgt. Matthew Holloway, 11th Signal Brigade. “The guest speakers are very uplifting.”
Religion is sometimes a touchy subject in the military, public schools or other places around the country. From the Vietnam War to the conflicts the nation has been involved in since, events such as the National Prayer Breakfast are the types of things Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and other service members lay their lives on the line for.
“As we gather here today to celebrate the National Prayer Breakfast, let us never take the freedom we have to worship together for granted,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Cliff Neuman, of the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade, who opened the breakfast.
The special guest speaker at this year’s event was Honorable Allen Clark. Before speaking, Clark was introduced by Col. Dan McFarland, Fort Huachuca garrison commander.
Clark, a Vietnam veteran, had both of his legs amputated after a mortar attack in South Vietnam in 1967. In spite of the depression and challenges he faced, he overcame his struggle and now dedicates his life to helping wounded warriors through his ministry and speaking at numerous events.
When he left the military, he served as special assistant to Texas Governor Bill Clements from 1979-1981. Then, he served under President George Bush as the assistant secretary of Veterans Liaison and Program Coordination. He later served as the director of the National Cemetery System of the Department of Veterans Affairs before retiring from public service in 2005. He has written two books.
“America is great because America is good,” said Clark. “And if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
Although Clark sees the good in this country and the people who live in it, he also sees a side that he believes can be changed through careful self-examination and individual growth and improvement.
There are a lot of bad things happening in this country. Morality and traditional values are being stepped upon, and the only way to restore them is to start with individual change, he explained.
Events such as the National Prayer Breakfast are designed, in part, for people to reaffirm their faith and inspire people to make positive changes in their lives and on society.
Prayer breakfasts give those in attendance the opportunity to listen to others who have overcome great personal adversity during their lives, and Clark may be one of Fort Huachuca’s more inspirational speakers. He shares his experiences and the role his faith played in helping him heal in the hope of leading others to enlightenment and realization of their potential, as well.
“America can only be as good as we individually are good,” said Clark. “We have a supreme responsibility to honor God by our thoughts, words and deeds.”
The annual National Prayer Breakfast is one vehicle that can help people become more spiritually enlightened and learn new ways to cope with and overcome the many stresses they face every day.
As he accepted the Fort Huachuca Buffalo Soldier statuette traditionally presented to distinguished Fort Huachuca visitors, Clark was overcome with emotion and appreciation for not only the statue, but also for those in the nation’s service.
“I thank all of you, and I love all of you very much for serving our country,” he said.