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NGB chaplain delivered Easter message at Arlington service

By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy | National Guard Bureau | April 23, 2019

ARLINGTON, Va. – With the warm, yellow-tinged light of daybreak filtering through the sky and across the Arlington National Cemetery grounds, hundreds gathered Sunday for the annual Easter sunrise service at Arlington’s Memorial Amphitheatre.

Army Brig. Gen. Kenneth “Ed” Brandt, the National Guard Bureau joint chaplain and U.S. Army deputy chief of chaplains, delivered the Easter Message at this year’s service.

For many, Brandt noted, Easter marks a time of resurrection and forgiveness.

“Love and forgiveness conquer all,” he said. “The best part of waking up today on this Easter morn is forgiveness in our cup, hope in our hearts and new life for our souls.”

During his message, Brandt touched on many of the spiritual and religious elements of Easter, such as the discovery of the empty tomb three days after the death and burial of Jesus. He reflected on how that may have affected those who discovered it empty.

“If they weren’t completely wide-eyed and awake when they left home, they were then,” he said. “Fear and amazement do that to people; new life does that to people.”

While some may not follow the religious elements of Easter, Brandt implored those in attendance to take to heart a broader message of hope and enthusiasm for life and not to settle for “dead moments.”

“We often settle for the dead moments of life just to get through another day, just to get through another relationship, just to get through another job,” he said.

Brandt touched on the experiences of retired Air Force Maj. Gen. John Borling, who spent more than six years as a prisoner of war after being shot down while flying a mission over Vietnam in 1967. A captain at the time, Borling wrote and shared poetry with his fellow prisoners while held in North Vietnam’s Hỏa Lò Prison – more commonly known by many as the “Hanoi Hilton.”

“While there he would share poems with his fellow residents through a series of taps on the wall using Morse code,” Brandt said, “[Those] poems he shared with other POWs, that provided a sense of community. More importantly, those poems provided a sense of hope in a dead end, if not a dead, situation.”

Those poems, said Brandt, allowed many of those held prisoner to see a future, rather than dwelling on the past. That’s a key element to growing as a person and reveling in life.

“Borling said this, and this is what struck me,” said Brandt. “It’s OK to look back, but don’t stare. It’s OK to go back, but don’t stay.”

Staying engaged, looking ahead and searching for the good are important, said Brandt.