Chaplain’s Corner

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

How many of us have considered the poppies handed out on Memorial and Veteran’s Days and the history contained therein?  Poppies draw us to battle fields of Flanders, Belgium, and the row upon row of white crosses found there, a lasting memory of World War 1, The War to End All Wars.  The battle fields of Flanders include some of the bloodiest battles of World War I.  After the war, the citizens of Belgium provided to the United States ground where we could bury our fallen heroes.  Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial is a World War I cemetery on the southeast edge of the town of Waregem, Belgium.  This is the only American World War 1 cemetery in Belgium and 411 American servicemen are buried or commemorated there. Many of them fell at Spitaals Bosschen, an action of the Ypres-Lys Campaign by the 91st Infantry Division in the closing days of World War I.

This cemetery is administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) and occupies a six acre site. As with all Allied war cemeteries, the land was provided in perpetuity by the Belgian government. The headstones are aligned in four symmetrical areas around the white stone chapel that stands in the center of the cemetery. The side walls of the chapel are inscribed with the names of 43 missing American servicemen who have no known graves. The ABMC also administers two American cemeteries in Belgium for World War II casualties: Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial; and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial.

The cemetery is in the area known as Flanders Fields, where fierce fighting took place throughout the war.  A Canadian, Dr. John McCrae, wrote the poem In Flanders Fields on May 3, 1915, after witnessing the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, the day before.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


I had the very great distinction of visiting this cemetery while stationed in Brunssum, The Netherlands, in the early 1980’s.  I can state unequivocally that visiting this and other US Cemeteries in Europe and Asia were humbling experiences.  At each I was reminded that Freedom is not Free.  On this Memorial Day, please remember those who died that we and other Americans might enjoy the fruits of freedom and liberty.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; we give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our county.  Grant to them thy mercy and the light of the presence, that the good work which Thou hast begun in them may be perfected, through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.  Amen

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

For some of us, 30 April marks a ‘memorable’ day in history.  It marks the ‘official’ end of the Vietnam War – 30 April 1975.  We who served during that conflict lost many friends.  We also had friends who were held captive in the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ and other such places in Vietnam.  Our lives were forever changed by that conflict.  So was the United States.  (Of course, that statement could be made by those who served in any war.)  As we stress during our frequent presentations to students, “War is not fun.  We who served and are serving our Country in the military hate war.  However, freedom is not free! Therefore, when our Country calls, we serve.”   On 30 April please say a special prayer for our Country and for those who made the supreme sacrifice during the Vietnam War.

The following is quoted from an email I received a long time ago.  I don’t know the author but I’m certain he or she would not mind my sharing it with you.

“While watching a little TV on Sunday instead of going to church, I watched a Church in Atlanta honoring one of its senior pastors who had been retired many years.He was 92 at that time and I wondered why the Church even bothered to ask the old gentleman to preach at that age. After a warm welcome, introduction of this speaker, and as the applause quieted down, the old man rose from his high back chair and walked slowly, with great effort and a sliding gate to the podium.Without a note or written paper of any kind he placed both hands on the pulpit to steady himself and then quietly and slowly he began to speak. ‘When I was asked to come here today and talk to you, your pastor asked me to tell you what was the greatest lesson ever learned in my 50 odd years of preaching. I thought about it for a few days and boiled it down to just one thing that made the most difference in my life and sustained me through all my trials. The one thing that I could always rely on when tears and heartbreak and pain and fear and sorrow paralyzed me… the only thing that would comfort was this verse………

‘Jesus loves me this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
We are weak but He is strong…..
Yes, Jesus loves me…
The Bible tells me so.’

When he finished, the church was quiet. You actually could hear his footsteps as he shuffled back to his chair.”

Please be assured that Our Lord loves each and every one of us.  “No”- we don’t deserve nor have we earned that love.  “So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  (John 3:16)

God Bless you and God Bless our Troops.

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

We are more than half way through Lent, the Church season during which Christians are encouraged to prepare through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial for the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxury as a form of penitence. The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ’s carrying the Cross and of His execution, are often observed. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches bare their altars of candles, flowers, and other devotional offerings, while Crucifixes, religious statues, and other elaborate religious paraphernalia are often veiled in violet fabrics in observance of this event. In certain pious Catholic countries, grand processions and cultural customs are observed, and the faithful attempt to visit seven churches during Holy Week in honor of Jesus Christ heading to Mount Calvary.

According to the Synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent forty days fasting in the desert before the beginning of His public ministry, where He endured temptation by Satan.  Thus, Lent is described as being forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days differently. In many of the Christian churches, Lent is regarded as being forty days long, but the Sundays between Shrove Tuesday and Easter Sunday are not typically regarded as being part of Lent; thus, the date of Shrove Tuesday will typically be 47 days before Easter.  Christians are permitted to recognize Lent and celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord on Easter as they choose.  These religious rights are a salient and integral part of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

The United States of America was founded on Christian Judeo principles.  That does not mean that our citizens must be either Christians or Jews.  The First Amendment to the Constitution states clearly that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, on prohibiting the free exercise thereof…..”  We are thereby guaranteed the freedom of religion not the freedom from religion.  Each citizen shall be afforded the right to worship – or not – as he or she believes.  I may not agree with how you choose to worship but I shall not have the right to interfere, obstruct, or prohibit how you worship.  Also, you have no right to interfere, obstruct, or prohibit how I worship.  Many within this great country of ours seem to have forgotten or never perceived this fact.

I wish each of you a very Happy Easter or Happy Hanukkah or not.

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

As your Chaplain (and we have at least two others far better and more qualified for this job than I – Ed Gray and Dexter Miller),  I would like to very briefly confront our membership with a challenge that I believe is crucial to our country’s future and the education of today’s youth.  That challenge is how our courts and many of our fellow citizens have interpreted the First Amendment, commonly referred to as the ‘establishment clause’, to the US Constitution – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  To many this means the freedom from religion not the freedom of religion as I strongly believe it is intended and so states.

I am a Christian and I strongly believe that my religious beliefs  play an essential role in my life.  As a Christian, I strongly believe I have a responsibility to practice my religion on a daily basis; I also believe that I have a responsibility to demonstrate and reflect the love of Christ for the benefit of others.  I do not, however, believe that I have the right to force on others my beliefs – nor do I believe that they have the right to force their beliefs on me, whether they are Jewish, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, or agnostics.  I should be free to practice my religion in the manner I believe; as should others.  I believe this is what the First Amendment to our Constitution guarantees.

As VFW members, I believe we have a continuing responsibility to our Nation’s youth (and others), to serve as examples stressing what made and what continues to make this Country of ours great.  Our Country was founded by men who clearly understood the inherent and God Given Right of Freedom including Freedom of Religion and not Freedom from Religion.  The First Amendment to the US  Constitution guarantees the right to worship (or not worship) our God in the way each individual or group of individuals – a church – freely chooses.

Chaplain’s Corner

This was received from a member of our Post and I as your Chaplain am just passing it on.  I do, however, suggest that there is much truth contained in this short ‘testimonial’.  As the saying goes, “So soon we forget” and Our War on Terror (and Terrorist I might add) certainly falls into that category.  Many within our Nation would claim that the War on Terror is over. But tell that to a family who recently lost a son or daughter.  Tell that to the families of those mentioned below.  Tell that to a mother, father, wife, son, or daughter whose child, husband, wife, father, son, or daughter has just deployed and into harm’s way.  Our liberty is not free and our brave men and women – Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Coast Guard – are paying the price, daily, for the liberty and freedom we continue to enjoy in this great land of ours.  God Bless America and those who willingly defend Her.

Prayer Request

We are asking everyone to say a prayer for Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan &have lost 9 marines in 4 days. IT WOULD BE NICE TO SEE the message spread if more could pass it on. Nothing in the media about these guys because no one seems to care: 

Rest in peace: Justin Allen, 23, Brett Linley, 29, Matthew Weikert, 29, Justus Bartett, 27, Dave Santos, 21, Chase Stanley, 21 Jesse Reed, 26, Matthew Johnson, 21, Zachary Fisher, 24, Brandon King, 23, Christopher Goeke, 23, Sheldon Tate, 27.

All are Marines that gave their lives for YOU this week.

Please Honor THEM by forwarding this.

Father Brian F. Kelly, Ph.D., Chaplain

Cathedral Catholic High School

San Diego, CA 92130


It makes no difference what our political views are. Whether we are a Democrat or a Republican, Right Wing or Left Wing, Liberal or Conservative, we are first and foremost Americans and these were ‘Our Native Sons’ and fellow comrades in arms.

“Heavenly Father, receive each into Thy Fold and comfort the bereaved.  Amen!”

Chaplain’s Corner—Capt. Rock Roth

“Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men.”  Let me think, when was the last time we experienced ‘Peace’ real ‘Peace on Earth?’  Not in my life time.  I was born in 1937.  Wars were occurring around the globe, in China and in Europe.  Now 2011 is coming to a close and 2012 is upon us.  We have continued to experience wars even after WWI, The War to End All Wars!  WWII, the Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam, First Gulf War, Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I could also mention Lebanon, Cuban Missile Crises, and many other crisis or conflicts in which we have participated and sacrificed men and women to preserve our freedom.  Today our military is deployed around the world and in harm’s way.  ‘Peace on Earth’ remains that illusive dream as far away today as it was when I was born 74 years ago.  I strongly believe that as long as we humans fail to look to and rely on a Higher Power, a Power much stronger and knowledgeable than we, we will be faced with conflicts and wars.  We have to accept, to believe, that only though Divine Guidance can we achieve Peace.

As we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the Prince of Peace, Our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ, let each of us give thanks to Him for His example as He showed us how to live.  Let us each pray that His Peace which passes all understanding may be with us all.  Until such time as His Peace reigns on earth, we need to have a strong military willing and able to defend our rights, including our right to worship as we see fit, as free men and women in a strong and free America.  Although during the Christmas Season we first and foremost should thank our God, we should also thank those who find themselves away from home protecting what we hold most dear – our families, friends, and our American way of life.  Without these dedicated military people, there would be no United States of America and we would lose the freedom and liberty we enjoy.  ‘Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men.’  God Bless America, Land that I love.  Stand Beside Her and Guide Her, through the Night with the Light from Above, From the Mountains, to the Prairie, to the Ocean white with Foam.  God Bless America, My Home, Sweet Home.”

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year.  God Bless Our Troops!!

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

This is a TRUE e-mail from a young ensign aboard USS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) to her parents. Churchill is an Arleigh Burke class AEGIS guided missile destroyer, commissioned March 10, 2001, and is the only active US Navy warship named after a foreign national. This True Story tells of an event that occurred shortly after the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.  It provides a good example of the espirit de corps felt between members of the military, even those of other nations.  Military members, no matter what the service or county, have shared and lived through similar experiences, experiences not shared by our civilian counterparts, experiences civilians cannot really understand or appreciate.  I also believe that we with military experience share closeness to our God that ‘others’ cannot easily understand or appreciate.  “There are no atheists in a foxhole”, and “There are no atheists in the cockpit of an aircraft landing on a pitching carrier deck on a dark, cloudy, rainy night”.  In researching the following I learned that the author was a young Navy Officer, Megan Hallinan.  The letter was written to her father.  The letter was posted on the US Navy website by the Navy Office of Information on 26 September 2001.  —–

We are still at sea. The remainder of our port visits have all been cancelled. We have spent every day since the attacks going back and forth within imaginary boxes drawn in the ocean, standing high-security watches, and trying to make the best of it. We have seen the articles and the photographs, and they are sickening. Being isolated, I don’t think we appreciate the full scope of what is happening back home, but we are definitely feeling the effects. About two hours ago, we were hailed by a German Navy destroyer, Lutjens, requesting permission to pass close by our port side. Strange, since we’re in the middle of an empty ocean, but the captain acquiesced and we prepared to render them honors from our bridgewing. As they were making their approach, our conning officer used binoculars and announced that Lutjens was flying not the German, but the American flag. As she came alongside us, we saw the American flag flying half-mast and her entire crew topside standing at silent, rigid attention in their dress uniforms. They had made a sign that was displayed on her side that read “We Stand By You.”

There was not a dry eye on the bridge as they stayed alongside us for a few minutes and saluted. It was the most powerful thing I have seen in my life. The German Navy did an incredible thing for this crew, and it has truly been the highest point in the days since the attacks. It’s amazing to think that only half-century ago things were quite different. After Lutjens pulled away, the Officer of the Deck, who had been planning to get out later this year, turned to me and said, “I’m staying Navy.” I’ll write you when I know more about when I’ll be home, but this is it for now.

Love you guys,

The Chaplain’s Corner — Rock Roth

While flying off the carrier, we use to ‘kid’ the other pilots asking if they did not return could we have their stereo set or something of similar importance.  This comment was brought on by youth and the idea that each thought he was invincible.  When someone did not return, we rationalized that person’s death by saying to ourselves, “That could never happen to me.  Old…… just screwed-up.”  However, with each passing year and the passing of close friends and family, each of us comes to the realization that we are human and that means there is no way out of this world except through death!  Each of us, at his or her appointed time and place, will face death.  I strongly believe, a living hope, that I and others who believe in Our Lord, will not face death alone; that there is everlasting life after ‘crossing the bar’.

During the last couple of weeks, we lost two members of our Post – Charles Siljig, a Korean War Vet, and Kenneth Pearl, a Vietnam Vet.  Our Post sent cards to the families of these our fellow Comrades in arms who have gone to be with their Lord.

The Order for the Burial of the Dead opens with the following:

I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.  I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger.

We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!

As members of VFW Post 8870, what each of us can do is to rededicate ourselves to our Nation – to our fellow veterans, our community, and especially our youth:  the next generation – so each remembers that our government “of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.  If those words sound familiar, they should.  They are borrowed from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  Each of us should live everyday as if it were our last, doing good, and helping our fellow man.  Because today just may be our last!

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

To preserve our freedom, we as a nation must continue to hold before the American people the spiritual foundation of our Country.  We must reaffirm our faith in Almighty God and constantly rekindle that spirit of humble reliance on Divine Guidance which inspired the Founders of our Country.  It behooves us as a Nation to arm our people in time of peril with the ageless weapons of moral and spiritual might and to uphold and preserve, unimpaired, the spiritual heritage of America.  We are and must be “One Nation under God”.

Looking to one of the greatest documents ever written, our Declaration of Independence, we witness its seminal opening passage “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”  Grounded in reason, “self-evident” truths invoke the long tradition of natural law, which holds that there is a “higher law” of right and wrong from which to derive human law and against which to criticize that law at any time.  It is not political will, but moral reasoning, accessible to all that is the foundation of our political system.  “One Nation under God”.

But if reason is the foundation of the Founders’ vision, the method by which we justify our political order, liberty is our aim.  Thus the cardinal moral truths are these:

“That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” “One Nation under God”.

Chaplain’s Corner—Rock Roth

I have the very great honor of serving as your Post Chaplain. What are my qualifications for holding this important position? Few! I have, during my almost 32 years in the Navy, been an operator. My dealings with chaplains were primarily during religious services or on a number of very difficult and highly emotional occasions when I with the chaplain ‘notified’ the next of kin of the death of a squadron or shipmate. I‘m not sure how important these ‘contacts’ would appear on my resume. However, on my resume, and for your consideration , I would like to include the following: (1) I am a devote Christian which means that I believe that Christ is my personal Savior, (2) I strongly believe we are and must remain ‘One Nation Under God’ if we are to be a force for good in this world, (3) I strongly believe in “Americanism as defined as follows – ” An unfailing love of country: eagerness to defend it against all enemies; undivided allegiance to the flag; and a desire to secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.‖ (Americanism was defined by the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, United Spanish War Veterans, VFW, the National Commanders of the American Legion and Disabled Americans Veterans of the World War at a conference held in Washington, in February 1927.)

As I hope you are aware, we in VFW Post 8870 are honored and blessed to have at least two members who are much more qualified to serve as Post Chaplin than I. They are Dexter Miller and Ed Gray. We will continue to look to them for help, support, and guidance. I, as your chaplain, also need the help, support, and guidance from you, my VFW Comrades, to keep me informed of those in need, those for whom our prayers will be offered. If you need my help or have information on a ‘Comrade in Distress’, please telephone me at either of the following numbers: 206-533-9873 (H) (also my fax number) or 356-8869 (C). My email address is