Book from World War II given to 400,000 troops
NEW YORK CITY––The USS New York, a Navy ship that contains over seven tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center; was officially commissioned on Nov. 12.
Sailors aboard that amphibious warfare ship carry copies of Strength for Service to God and Country, a historic book of daily devotions.
Published by the United Methodist Publishing House and funded by financial gifts from 5,000 individuals and groups through the General Commission on United Methodist Men, the books have now been distributed to 400,000 people, mostly men and women in the Armed Forces.
The ship is the sixth to carry the name USS New York. Sailors aboard the fifth USS New York, a battleship that saw action in both World War I and World War II, probably carried copies of the same book as the publishing house distributed over 1 million copies shortly after Pearl Harbor in 1942.
The first edition of Strength for Service to God and Country was distributed by the Methodist Publishing House to men and women in the armed forces in both World War II and the Korean War.
The book was later forgotten until 11 years ago, a California Boy Scout found a tattered copy on the bedside of his grandfather, a Navy veteran of both wars. Evan Hunsberger, a Roman Catholic, asked the United Methodist Publishing House for permission to reprint the historic book for men and women stationed at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos. Upon approval, Hunsberger added 40 additional devotions from current national leaders.
Hunsberger received a major boost when the General Commission on United Methodist Men offered to help raise funds for the project. Neither Hunsberger nor the Nashville-based commission would have guessed they would raise $1.5 million.
Chaplains stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and bases around the globe have requested copies of the 400-page pocket-sized book. USS New York Chaplain Edmond Garrett originally requested copies of the updated book and Laura Bender, a United Methodist, now serves as chaplain of the ship.
The USS New York motto is “Never Forget.” The ship embodies a memory of the Sept. 11 attack upon the World Trade Center, and Strength for Service devotions written by clergy and civic leaders in 1942 enable members of the Armed Forces today to receive the same spiritual support offered to men and women over 60 years ago.
For information about the publishing effort and how to make a donation visit www.strengthforservice.org