Welcome to the Chaplain’s Corner
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the sun” Ecclesiastes 3:1
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair……” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
In 1971 when faced with finding qualified naval officer candidates from minority communities, CAPT Emerson Emory, CAPT Claude Williams, CDR Emmanuel Jenkins, CWO James Harris and LT Johnson began forming the organization we all have come to know and love in the National Naval Officer’s Association. NNOA was birthed out of necessity in a critical time among our Sea Services. Daily I think about the climate and temperament of our country and globe as I decipher what to allow my children to view, and what they should be sheltered from. On the final evening of September my family and I settled in to watch a Hallmark film capturing a rare moment of gathering together as a unit. There was no local high school football game to run off to or after school activities. We gathered together in the family room according to ritual to watch the film “Resting Place” starring Morgan Freeman, CCH Pounder, and John Lithgow. It is 1972. The fallen body of Lt. Dwyte Johnson is brought back to be buried in Rockville, Georgia. However there is one problem. Lt. Johnson is African American and his family wants to bury him in a cemetery where he is not welcome, it is the veteran’s cemetery. He is a veteran after all. It is near the place where Dwyte played as a boy and loved the area. But his father (Morgan Freeman) and mother (CCH Pounder) are told his body is not welcome there. Following the funeral at the church and trip to the cemetery his body is carried back to the church to lie in state while the controversy is worked out. The parents are assisted by their neighbor Mrs. McAlister (Frances Sternhagen), in their patriotic and racially divided community. I found the film to be relevant as it unwaveringly addressed issues of racial prejudice. We use different platforms to educate our girls about the racial climate and tensions within and throughout our society. Our Children live and play in a multi-ethic environment we have a responsibly to teach them about the virtues and the vice of our unique heritages because people tend to respond to their appearance first and their character and behavior second. NNOA is an organization that I became involved with as a junior officer because of opportunities of diversity and the hope of long term systematic change impacting policy and influencing decision making. Our Sea Services need sound moral up standing leadership. We must be brave and deal with the painful permanent wounds of racism and sexism. While we continue to pray for wisdom, exuding love, kindness, gentleness and patiences. Let us seek the counsel of our elders and the zeal of our youth. May we learn to harness the genuine desire to give into anger and resist pride by speaking truth in love. Above all, may we have a heart that is open to the arduous lifetime work of forgiveness. Finally I offer to mirror Stevie Wonder’s brave response at the Global Citizen Festival in which he stated “But not just one knee; I’m taking both knees. Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world and our globe. Amen,”
What side of history were you on in 1971 at our conception? Which side will you be on in 2017? NNOA needs you to be on the side of hope in this season. Will you take both knees with me and pray?
Kimberly Cain, NNOA Chaplain