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NEWS | July 31, 2019

Celebrating spiritual readiness

By Airman 1st Class Monica Roybal 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Fort Eustis Deputy Garrison Chaplain Office hosted a 244th U.S. Army Chaplain Corps Anniversary celebration at Bruton Parish Episcopal church in Williamsburg, Virginia, July 26, 2019. 

The Chaplain Corps is one of the oldest branches of the Army that originated July 29, 1775, when chaplains were assigned to Continental Army regiments. Since then, chaplains have served in every American War and represent major faith groups, including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and more than 120 denominations to support Soldiers and their families. 

“I think from the very beginning the founding fathers understood the importance of religion in the lives of people in their community and that people of differing faith traditions should have the opportunity worship the way they pleased,” said U.S. Army Maj. Sharon Browne, 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) brigade chaplain. “Because of the presence of those Chaplains supporting their community, it empowered them and gave voice to the whole notion of revolution. It helped them to dig deep and do the hard work that was necessary to make America free.”

The celebration began with a devotion prayer followed by a presentation discussing the impact of chaplains in colonial times and the Civil War, a tour of Bruton Parish church, a cake-cutting ceremony and concluded with a tour of Colonial Williamsburg to learn about the history of the region. 

“With (the Chaplain Corps) starting during the Civil War and Colonial War, we operate under the idea that there is no religious uniformity and it’s religious freedom that unites us all,” said Lt. Col. Abdullah A. Hulwe, Deputy Garrison Chaplain Office deputy garrison. “And that’s why we have the Chaplain Corps, so that we can remind and protect the unique characteristic of freedom of religion or freedom from religion. In this profession of arms, we empower the free exercise so we don’t have to repeat history or become history. We are making history by living under these freedoms every day.”

While the Chaplain Corps represents free religious practice, chaplains also work to create well-balanced Soldiers who can rely on continued spiritual and moral support. 

“Our forefathers realized one thing: in order to win a war you have to be ready and the best way to readiness is the human dimension, the human soul,” Hulwe said. “They recognized its significance in readiness then and it continues to be proven that the ones who win battles are the human beings and their souls. Which, of course, contributes to the collective soul of the Army.”

According to Hulwe, it is important for JBLE members to recognize our diversity and celebrate our religious freedom as the Chaplain Corps continues to ensure that members will be judged on merit and not skin color or religious beliefs. 

“We must honor those who fought for our rights in order to reconnect with history,” Hulwe continued. “We’re making sure the Army is still protecting the American people, safeguarding the nation and advancing our interests abroad by providing a critical capability and that is a spiritual dimension and spiritual readiness.”