JEFFERSON CITY – There can be no doubt Army Chaplain (Col.) David Bowlus and retired Naval fighter pilot State Rep. Mike Haffner (R-Pleasant Hill) love America, so much so they have put their lives on the line to defend it. Bowlus and Haffner, along with Gov. Mike Parson, will be the featured speakers at this year’s National Day of Prayer observance, noon, May 2, in The Rotunda of the State Capitol. This year’s theme, “Love One Another,” is taken from John 13:34. The event is free and open to the public.
“In keeping with the theme, this year’s event is intended to be an expression of love and gratitude to Missouri’s active duty military, National Guard, veterans and their families,” said Jill Noble, Missouri coordinator for Missouri National Day of Prayer. “As we pause to pray for our nation, we are asking active duty military, National Guard, veterans and their families to come and let our state express its love to them for their service.”
A native of Toledo, Ohio, Bowlus is garrison chaplain at Fort Leonard Wood, having completed multiple tours in Liberia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Among his many assignments during his 26-year Army career was a tour as division chaplain for the famed 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) “Screaming Eagles” based at Fort Campbell, Ky. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and holds a master of International Strategic Studies at the U.S. Army War College. He also holds master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, N.Y.
Haffner, first elected to the House in November 2018, owns and operates Pumpkins and Pines Christmas Tree Farm in Pleasant Hill. He served as an officer in the Navy for more than 20 years. Before retiring he was the commanding officer of an F-18 Hornet Fighter Squadron and led combat air patrols over New York City immediately following the attacks on 9/11. During his commanding officer tour, his squadron was recognized by all of Naval aviation with the Admiral Wade McCluskey Award as the best attack squadron in the United States Navy. Haffner earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cleveland State University and a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. A lifelong member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he is an elder at Cornerstone Community (Evangelical Free) Church in Harrisonville.
Bowlus and Haffner will be joined by representatives from every branch of the military in Missouri along with troops from several installations. The Fort Leonard Wood band will perform and the fort’s color guard will present the colors. Following the one-hour service in The Rotunda, a free, hot meal will be served on the State Capitol’s south lawn for military members, veterans, lawmakers and their families, courtesy of Missouri Baptist Convention Disaster Relief and Kansas City-based Taking to the Streets, a ministry that provides hot meals onsite to First Responders and disaster relief volunteers.
Statewide officeholders scheduled to attend include Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Attorney General Eric Schmidt, State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick and State Auditor Nicole Galloway as well as Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr (R-Springfield), Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) and many members of the Missouri General Assembly.
Pathway Editor Don Hinkle, a member of the Missouri National Day of Prayer program committee, will serve as master of ceremonies.
“There will be National Day of Prayer ceremonies at most county courthouses throughout Missouri and if you cannot attend the event at the State Capitol, I urge you to attend the event nearest you. Please pause and pray for our nation on May 2,” Hinkle said.