Friday, September 12, 2008
U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs
As we traveled south on I-25, we saw the sign for the U.S. Air Force Academy, and decided to stop. We are so glad we did. The grounds are impressive, and include a large Visitor's Center. We learned that we were just in time for a guided tour of the Chapel, the most visited building on the campus.
The chaplain gave a very interesting tour. The chapel, built in the 50's is a beautiful work of art, both inside and out. So many features of the building and it's furnishings contain symbols relating to the Air Force, even down to the shape of the pew backs (that of a plane's wing).
The government funded the construction of the building, but the inside has been furnished solely by contributions and gifts.
I was impressed to find religious worship playing such a large part in a military establishment. You don't expect that in an age of separation and state. In doing a little research later, I found this quote:
In the 1950s, while the United States engaged in the Cold War, American civil religion stood in contrast with “godless Communism.” Historian Sydney Ahlstrom remarked of the decade, “There seemed to be a consensus that personal religious faith was an essential element in proper patriotic commitment.” President Dwight Eisenhower summarized the non-sectarian attitude, stating, “Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply felt religious faith--and I don’t care what it is.” The Academy carefully embraced three major beliefs with distinct worship spaces in the chapel for Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, expanding in recent years to include Muslim, Buddhist and other faiths.
The chaplain did tell us that cadets are no longer required to attend the services as they were when the chapel was first built.
For a slideshow of more photos, including some from the interior of the chapel, click anywhere on this sentence.