Chaplain in Afghanistan ponders ramp ceremony

By Capt. Anthony Holloway, Family Life Chaplain

In a recent sermon, a fellow officer delivered a message that made me sit back and think. Maj. Jerry Sayre said that one can tell a great deal about a person by looking at the things that bother him. In other words, those things that make us uncomfortable say a great deal about us. I find Maj. Sayre’s statement to be quite profound.

While conducting my first ramp ceremony, I found myself ill-prepared for the wave of emotion that swept over me. “Amazing Grace” played on the bagpipes as the fallen soldiers were slowly carried past a solemn line of their comrades.

Of the things that passed through my mind, none is greater than the thought of the impact on the lives of the family members and friends of each soldier. Their lives will be changed forever. Big plans developed by husbands and wives or brothers and sisters will never take place. Plans for vacations, plans for college, plans to spend more time together will never materialize.

I also think about the other soldiers who face the fight every day. I think of how they deserve the best that we at our level can provide them. They are the reason we are here.

I was fortunate to spend two weeks at a base in the vicinity of Herat last month. I slept in a tent with young soldiers from the 82nd Airborne. Many of them face the same problems common to all who are separated from friends and family. However, they often face those challenges without the benefit of easy Internet access and the additional 30-plus years of life experience that many of us have.

Overall, I found them to be a good group of young Americans who do dangerous jobs for a living. I know this: I pray that nothing bad happens to any of them. I want each of them to one day chase those big dreams and big plans they have made.

Take Maj. Sayre’s comment to examine your own conscience: what bothers you the most?

I know that I speak for most, if not all, military members: ramp ceremonies.

We pray that they will always bother us.

Capt. Holloway is the son of Duncan and Mary Holloway, of the Geneva, Ala., congregation.

Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us

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1 Comment

  1. A notable tribute to our soldiers and their fallen comrades. May their families always be in our hearts, mind and prayers.

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