Intro Meeting at the Pentagon

More than 20 U.S. military installations host introductory meetings.

Photo: Cameron Gilbert.

At the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, SGI-USA members held an introductory Buddhist meeting for the second consecutive year as part of its Faith and Prayer Week.

Two people received the Gohonzon at the event, which was held on May 3, Soka Gakkai Day.

Col. Ken Valcourt, a longtime practitioner of SGI Nichiren Buddhism, helped to coordinate the meeting. He has been hosting early morning chanting sessions there for over a year.

“Seeing the diligent efforts made to share Buddhism at the Pentagon and military installations across the U.S. gives me great hope for the future,” said Col. Valcourt.

Today, more than 20 U.S. military installations host SGI Nichiren Buddhism meetings, where they introduce as many as 50,000 members of the armed services every year to Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

While some locations welcome a handful of guests weekly or monthly, other sites host hundreds of youth seeking a practical religion for their numerous challenges in life.

James Herrmann, SGI-USA’s Director of Military Personnel Support and a U.S. Navy veteran, said these meetings have wide-ranging effects.

“You have up to 50,000 service members learning about the dignity of human life,” he said. “When faced with challenging circumstances, they have a new perspective on life because we’ve made an effort to teach it to them.”

Each year, new military bases are opening their doors to the SGI-USA, which offers a religious practice and perspective often unfamiliar to military chaplains. This year alone, three new bases in the U.S. have begun holding introductory Buddhist meetings supported by local SGI members, while similar gatherings are being held at U.S. bases throughout the world.

Lt. Cmdr. Savannah Gill, a chapter young women’s leader, has been attending the chanting sessions at the Pentagon.

“As a result,” she said, “the sound of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is resonating in these halls, where far-reaching decisions are made every day.”


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