Chappy’s corner: “Isn’t that Larry?”

In South Dakota, everybody knew Larry and Larry knew everyone. But, when Fred moved to town, he didn’t believe it. He said, “I bet you Larry doesn’t know everyone”. And Larry said, “Name somebody!” So, Fred said, “I bet you don’t know the governor.” Larry said, “I sure do.” And he took Fred to Pierre and walked right into the governor’s office and said “Hi to the governor!” Fred said, “So, you know the governor, I bet you don’t know the President!” Larry said, “Sure I do.” So, they borrow the governor’s plane flew to Washington and went to the White House. Once again, Larry went right into the Oval Office and introduced Fred to the President. Larry turned to Fred and said, “Do you believe I know everybody now?” At this point Fred wasn’t ready to admit defeat, so he said, “I bet you don’t know the Pope!” Larry said, “I certainly do!” So they borrowed the President’s plane and flew to Rome. Once there they went to the Vatican, and at that point Larry turned to Fred and said, “Hey, I may not be able to have you meet the Pope personally, but would you believe I know the Pope if you see me standing with him on that deck by his window?” At this point, Fred agreed to the terms and he waited in the courtyard. Soon a large crowd gathered in anticipation of seeing the Pope. Suddenly the Pope appeared on the deck in all his white robes ready to speak to the crowd. And next to him was a man, but Fred couldn’t see for sure who it was. So, he turned to the man next to him and said, “Hey do you know who that is up on the deck there?” The man squinted and said, “I don’t know the fellow in the white robes, but that other guy is Larry!

That story serves two points. First of all this month the Pope retired.  His retirement is big news because Popes normally serve until they die. But this man has chosen for his own reasons to leave the office and go into retirement. Since the pope is the leader of  the Roman Catholic church with one billion members his retirement affects many people. But soon a new pope will be selected and he will begin the work he is called to do.  The second reason for the story is to honor of CSM Larry Zimmerman who retired from the SDARNG last month.  As a chaplain, I am glad I had the opportunity to know and work with Larry. He is a great guy, and like  the story goes many folks in South Dakota and elsewhere know Larry and they respect him and I’m glad to be one of them. 

To be known and respected by your fellow workers, family and friends is probably the greatest honor one can have. Awards and plaques can decorate our walls, but to have the love and respect of others is something very precious and it doesn’t happen by accident. Good leaders whether they be officers or enlisted are the ones who display the attitude of Christ, who said, “Whoever wishes to be first amongst you must be last, and be the servant of all”. Jesus spoke those words when his disciples were arguing over who was the greatest. To Jesus the greatest is the one who serves .Jesus not only preached that message: He demonstrated it every day of His life. Most of all He demonstrated it on that Friday afternoon when He hung on the cross to pay the price for the sins of the world.

As Jesus hung on the cross, the Roman soldiers carried out their duty. But, once Jesus died, it was a Roman soldier who said, “Truly this was the son of God”. That soldier was a Centurion, who in many ways is like our Command Sergeant Majors today. Some say the Roman army rested on the shoulders of the Centurions who led the troops. I have no reason to doubt that fact. Because I do know I am thankful to the Lord for leaders like the Command Sergeant Majors I have been blessed to serve with in this Armed Forces of the Great USA. Those individuals know what it means to serve! But eventually the time comes for them to retire and we will miss them, but at the same time we are thankful for the men and women who will rise up now and in the future in order to serve and lead others.

Those are just my thoughts from this SE corner of South Dakota!


CH(LTC) David Gunderson