Admiral Vern Clark, USN, (Ret.) remembers the precise moment he became a “chief of Navy veterans.”
He was standing on the U.S.S. Arizona on the 60th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. He watched as veterans from all over the country came to honor those who had fallen on that infamous day. Among the crowd was a man who stood with 27 of his family members.
“It was clear, that was grandpa,” said Clark. “He was there on that day, and he wanted to come back one more time.”
Clark shared in the celebration of Veterans Day on Thursday, November 10, at Regent University’s seventh annual Veterans Prayer Breakfast hosted by Regent’s Office of Military & Veterans Affairs.
Each year, veterans in the area are invited to participate in a service of music, reflection and prayer. And as someone on the other side of a 37-year naval career, and having served as the Chief of Naval Operations, Clark knows all too well the importance of celebrating among his fellow veterans.
“So many veterans love their country; it’s rare to find one who is not appreciative of all that the United States has done for them,” said Clark. “It’s important to reflect on why this day exists.”
According to Clark, times have changed. He recalls upon returning home after a nine-month deployment in a combat zone off the coast of Vietnam being told not to wear his uniform ashore.
“I’m glad we live in a time where the issues are separated,” said Clark. “And that America is in love with the men and women who wear the cloth of the nation.”
The thankfulness that he’s witnessed throughout his time in service has been matched with an outpouring of thankfulness from civilians, manifesting itself in simple things like a box of “thank you” cards. He told stories about service members from other nations yearning for that amount of support from civilians in their own countries.
And while he knows that physical readiness is important for any member of the service, having support from friends and family back home assists with social, intellectual and emotional readiness.
“Those who have found peace are always working on their spiritual readiness,” said Clark.
He explained that successful leaders have a “framework for living,” and for Clark, that is his relationship with God and his life as a devoted Christ-follower. His life as a Christian began at a young age as he grew witnessing his father – a pastor – pray in solitude in the basement of their home in Nebraska.
“They say that more is ‘caught’ than taught,” said Clark. It was growing around that influence that “caught” his urge to pray without ceasing, and to ask for wisdom.
“I’m thankful that I’m the child of the King,” said Clark. “And I’m thankful I have a way to connect with him, and it’s called prayer.”