When a minister applies to be a chaplain in the Army, they are asked to submit a statement about why they want to be a chaplain. Going through my old files, I came across the statement that I wrote nearly 20 years ago as I was applying to become an Army chaplain. For me, it still holds true today, perhaps even more so.
In the face of the challenges in our nation today, the Army soldier is asked to do his or her duty to defend the Constitution of the United States with honor, integrity and selfless service while facing dangers on every side. Our young men and women in uniform give up the security of their familiar worshipping community to follow the call of their country to defend freedom.
These soldiers not only need the training that the Army gives them but also a presence that will give them moral and spiritual support as they face the potential risks of military service. While their spiritual leaders back home can give them some support, the Army Chaplain is uniquely qualified and equipped to be there for the soldiers when needed the most.
I feel called of God to represent Him and my Church as part of the Chaplain Corps. I believe that my experiences and education along with the additional training that the Army provides will combine to make me an effective Chaplain, working alongside those of other faith groups to serve our soldiers as they serve their country.
I want to be able to help those who have given up so much to be in uniform, to be a Chaplain who is ‘courageous in spirit and compassionate in service,’ continuing in the great tradition of the Chaplains who have gone before me, serving both God and country as a United States Army Chaplain.
Daryl W. Densford
24 January 2003
“Faith in God is the heartbeat of men and the lifeblood of nations. The United States Army believes in this doctrine…” begins an Army chaplain recruiting brochure from 1954. it continues:
The emergence of the United States as the champion of democracy and freedom under God has been built on the twin bulwarks of faith in God and high moral principle. To guard this heritage and to insure that it will never be lost, the Army has qualified chaplains as part of its armament.
This red, black and white brochure goes on to tell of the tradition of chaplaincy from the Egyptians, 16 centuries before the Christian era, through the Hebrews and Romans. It speaks of chaplains who served during the French and Indian War then “in every war in which this country has engaged.”
It goes on to describe the many opportunities for “real service” as chaplains in the United States Army and the urgent need for “many men to make great sacrifices for the cause of liberty,” sacrifices which “must be shared and supported by the churches of the Nation.”
It concludes with a few lines from the official Chaplains’ March, Soldiers of God, which was sure to inspire prospective candidates for the chaplaincy:
Soldiers of God, we serve Him faithfully
and march in his name
Through thunder and flame
Wherever the ‘call’ may be
Trusting in God, His strength we lean upon
As into the fight the Legions of Light,
The Soldiers of God, march on …