U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --
Retired Marine 1st Lt. Clebe McClary speaks in an unmistakable Southern drawl when he introduces himself as a "country boy from South Carolina." He talks about his traumatic Vietnam War experiences and his many injuries with a friendly smile. But dig a little deeper, and you'll see a man whose faith and hope have given him a strength no new arm or leg could match.
Lieutenant McClary, the guest speaker at the Air Force Academy's annual National Prayer Luncheon Feb. 10, talked about character, about his outlook on life and about faith. He followed guests who offered readings
from Islamic, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist religions.
Faith, the lieutenant said, isn't an intellectual pursuit -- it's a matter of the heart.
"I never drank, I never smoked, and I'd become a good athlete just to impress people," he recalled. "I'd gone to Sunday School and Church every Sunday since nine months before I was born because that's what Mom and Dad wanted me to do. ... So many people told me I was a Christian that I thought I was. I impressed (my wife), she impressed me. God wasn't impressed. We had a lot in the head, but we had an empty hole in our hearts that only the Lord could fill."
Lieutenant McClary introduced his audience to a few acronyms they might not have heard of previously. Three examples included PRIDE: "Personal Responsibility in Daily Effort," FIDO: "Forget It and Drive On," and PATCH: "Positive Attitude that Characterizes Hope."
"Life's tough. You know that better than I do," he said. "Are you going to get bitter, or are you going to get better? I chose to get better. You can, too. The music you listen to, the books you read ... you put good things in, you'll get good things out."
The lieutenant also challenged people to think about what they're worth.
"As I drive around the country, I see folks who have a very poor self image: they just don't think much of themselves," he said. "But what are you really worth? Would you sell your arm for a million dollars? ... Would you sell a leg for a million dollars?" Gesturing to his eye patch, he continued, "Would you sell me an eye for a million dollars?
"As I look around, most of you have been blessed, haven't you?" he asked the audience. "Two arms, two eyes, two legs. You're worth $6 million just for used parts. How about your heart? How about your brain? God did a tremendous job when He created each and every one of you. He's got a tremendous plan and purpose for your life."
He wrapped up by saying "thank you" to the Academy's leaders and staff.
"In this world of give and take, there are not enough people willing to give what it takes. What an honor to be here at the Air Force Academy with all of you who are preparing yourselves physically, mentally and spiritually, to give what it takes -- for faith, for flag, for family, for freedom, for the future, for the way of life that we know and enjoy," he said. "It's been an honor to be with you."
The Academy's National Prayer Luncheon included readings by members of the Islamic, Jewish, Christian and Buddhist religions. Their readings are below.
The Qu'Ran, al-e-'Imran [3:85] -
- تُو کہہ دے ہم ایمان لے آئے اللہ پر اور اس پر جو ہماری طرف اتارا گیا اور جو ابراہیم پر اتارا گیا اور اسماعیل پر اور اسحق پر اور یعقوب پر اور (اس کی) نسلوں پر اور جو موسیٰ اور عیسیٰ کو اور جو نبیوں کو اُن کے ربّ کی طرف سے دیا گیا۔ ہم ان میں سے کسی کے درمیان کوئی تفریق نہیں کرتے اور ہم اسی کی فرمانبرداری کرنے والے ہیں۔
- "Say, 'We believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to us, and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Tribes and his descendants, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and other Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one another and among them, and to Him we submit.'"
Prayer for Peace -
"May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease, when a great peace will embrace the whole world. Then nation shall not threaten nation, and humankind will not again know war.
"For all who live on Earth shall realize we have not come into being to hate or destroy. We have come into being to praise, to labor and to love. Compassionate God, bless all the leaders of all nations with the power of compassion.
"Fulfill the promise conveyed in Scripture: 'I will bring peace to the land, and you shall lie down and no one shall terrify you. I will rid the land of vicious beasts, and it shall not be ravaged by war.' Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream. Let peace fill the Earth as the waters fill the sea. And let us say: Amen."
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 -
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed, always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies."
"The Way of the Bodhisattva," by Shantideva -
"May all beings everywhere plagued by sufferings of body and mind obtain an ocean of happiness and joy as a result of what I do. May no living creature suffer, commit evil or fall ill. May no one be afraid or belittled or have a mind weighed down by depression. May the blind see forms and the deaf hear sounds. May those whose bodies are worn with labor be restored on finding rest. May the naked find clothing, the hungry find food. May the thirsty find water and delicious drinks.
"As a result of what I do, may the poor find abundance, those weak with sorrow find joy. May the forlorn find hope, lasting happiness and prosperity. May all who are sick quickly be freed from their illness. Whatever diseases there are in the world, may they never occur again.
"As a result of what I do, may the frightened cease to be afraid, and those bound be freed. May the powerless find power, and may people think of benefiting each other. For as long as space endures, for as long as sentient beings remain, may I too remain to dispel the miseries of the world."