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Prayer luncheon celebrates solidarity

Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, interfaith values and interreligious affairs consultant, gives the keynote speech at the 2014 F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., National Prayer Luncheon Feb. 25, 2014, in the Trail’s End Club. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jason Wiese)

Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, interfaith values and interreligious affairs consultant, gives the keynote speech at the 2014 F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., National Prayer Luncheon Feb. 25, 2014, in the Trail’s End Club. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jason Wiese)

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- The 90th Missile Wing Chaplain staff hosted a National Prayer Luncheon in the Trail's End Club Feb. 25.

Approximately 120 people attended, and prayers were offered by Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Muslim religious leaders.

"It's easy to find differences," said Chaplain (Capt.) Samuel McClellan, 90th Missile Wing chaplain and project officer for the event. "Religion can sometimes be one of those issues that you don't bring up at the dinner table."

However, through events like the luncheon, chaplains hope to educate and unify followers of different faiths, and those with no religion, he said.

"The National Prayer Breakfast is a yearly event held in Washington, D.C., on the first Thursday of February each year," said Master Sgt. Marcy Headstream, 153rd Airlift Wing chaplain's assistant and emcee for the luncheon. "The event -- which is actually a series of meetings, luncheons and dinners -- has taken place since 1953. It is designed to be a forum for the political, social, and business elite to assemble and build relationships. Since the inception of the National Prayer Breakfast, several U.S. states and cities and other countries have established their own annual prayer breakfast events.

"Because of the unpredictable weather of Cheyenne, Wyo., we hold an annual prayer luncheon modeled after the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C."

The keynote speaker for the event was Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff. Because Resnicoff is a consultant on interfaith values and interreligious affairs and a storied U.S. Navy chaplain, he was a fitting keynote speaker for the event, McClellan said.

"He is definitely a hero, but he will probably not be too boastful about that," he said. "He's really fought for and advocated for religious rights, and that's what we as chaplains advocate for."

"I am always delighted when I have a chance to share my thoughts withe men and women who serve our nation as part of our military forces," Resnicoff said.

"We should make the message clear that it does not matter to our military what religion anyone follows -- or whether or not a person follows any religion at all -- as long as our personnel live up to their oath and the core values that flow from that oath," he said.

He continued to discuss the importance of moral courage in living up to one's oath.

At one point in his military career, Resnicoff found himself in a Marine bunker in Beirut, Lebanon, under attack. There, he noticed something peculiar about the religious diversity there.

"I once made the comment that we Americans probably had the only 'interfaith foxholes' in all of the Mid-East," he said.

Whereas other nations had foxholes full of people with the same religion there, he considers it something to be celebrated that Americans embrace diversity enough to have interfaith foxholes.

"If the world had more interfaith foxholes, we might have less need for foxholes, and more room for faith," he said.