• "Pershing's Own" bugler

    "Pershing's Own" bugler

    Master Sgt. Troy McKay, bugler for the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" performs the church call.

  • Easter Sunrise service guest speaker, Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Kenneth "Ed" Brandt

    Easter Sunrise service guest speaker, Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Kenneth "Ed" Brandt

    The guest speaker for Sunday's Easter Service Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Kenneth "Ed" Brandt, the National Guard Bureau joint chaplain and the U.S. Army deputy chief of chaplains, Army National guard, talks to the audience.

  • U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" prelude

    U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" prelude

    The service began with a prelude by the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own", followed by musical selections from the U.S. Army Band and Chorus.

‘The best part of waking up’ on Easter sunrise

By Emily Mihalik

JBM-HH Public Affairs Specialist

Early Sunday, Arlington National Cemetery visitors received a special wake-up call. Attendees of the 6 a.m. Easter Sunrise Service were welcomed with clear skies, a light spring breeze and a message titled “The Best Part of Waking up.”

Early risers, coming as early as 5 a.m., were greeted at the Memorial Amphitheater to the sounds of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” followed by a bugle call from Master Sgt. Troy McKay.

The guest speaker was Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Kenneth “Ed” Brandt, National Guard Bureau joint chaplain and deputy chief of chaplains of the Army National Guard. Entering the stage, Brandt told the audience that The U.S. Army Band’s performance had moved him.

“I sat here watching ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ and I saw a lot of mouths moving in the congregation,” he said. “Could we sing the refrain together?”

In a surprising impromptu moment, he called the band to play again, and the audience to stand. As the congregation stood, the amphitheater awoke with hundreds singing the tune.

“He is risen, He is risen!” Brandt proclaimed. “Easter is so different than Christmas. At Christmas, we wake up and see gifts around a tree, at Easter we wake up around an empty tomb.

“There is wonder and amazement around the manger. At Easter, there is fear and worries around the wake up.”

As Brandt reflected on the first Easter he said “There was no best part of waking up for Mary, Joanna and Mary the mother of Jesus.

“The only thing they probably had was a tight knot in their guts as they made the way to the tomb that morning,” he said. “They had just said goodbye to their friend and rabbi of three years. These ladies were probably running on half a tank of sleep. There is no joy in a sleepless night.”

Brandt said individuals are too familiar with worry and fear.

“Like the women going to the tomb, there are many nights we cannot sleep,” he said. “We all have them. A life-changing job interview, waiting for a child to get home late at night. Wondering if your spouse or friend is safe performing in an unknown part of the world, an unknown mission, at an unknown part of time. A meeting with a doctor. We always like to toss and turn all night long. There is no joy in going to the graveyards of our lives. ”

Amid worry, individuals miss the best part waking up.

“We see death, we never expect to see light,” he said. “We see dead ends, we never expect to see avenues of opportunity.”

To emphasize the necessity of seeing hope, he shared the story of retired Air Force pilot Maj. Gen. John Borling, who was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

“While (imprisoned, Borling) would share poems with his fellow residents through a series of taps on the wall using Morse code,” he said. “When he returned, he wrote a book entitled ‘Taps on the Wall’ with poems he shared with other prisoners of war that provided a sense of community. More importantly, those poems provided a sense of hope in a dead end, if not, a dead situation. (In the book, Borling) shares what it was like to return to the Vietnam (Veterans Memorial) Wall, seeing familiar names etched on the wall, the dark expanse of the wall. He like others before him, cried.

“Death does that to us,” said the chaplain. “We miss those who are gone.”

Brandt said what is crucial about Borling’s story Borling said “It’s OK to look back, but don’t stay.

“If only we could face the dead rooms of life with such hope and optimism. Too many of us we just stare into the past, ignore the future. Too many of us go back and fail to enjoy the present.”

Borling’s story parallels with the moment the women first see Jesus’ empty tomb.

“The woman at the tomb, they stood and stared for a moment,” Brandt said. “Then, their world was turned upside down. They were pushed into a future that God owns when they discovered an empty tomb. Staring through the tomb is seeing through God’s eyes. God sees stones move away. Sees life where we see death, sees hope where we see despair. Sees a future where we just cling to a past. Easter is God’s reality. If we are Easter people, God is telling us to make Easter our reality. A resurrected life is God’s deepest yearning for each of us.

“The best part of waking up today on this morning is forgiveness in our cup, hope in our hearts and new life in our souls. The best part about waking up is that God never gives up on us.”

For the third year in a row, the service at Memorial Amphitheater was live steamed on the Joint Base Myer Facebook page. The JBM-HH Public Affairs team reports that the service was received across the world, with over 75 percent of the online audience viewership coming from outside the National Capital Region. If an individual missed the livestream, it can be viewed at www.facebook.com/jbmhh.

Emily Mihalik can be reached at emily.a.mihalik.civ@mail.mil.