OF SAINT BARBARA
On 10 December 2004 I was initiated into The Honorable Order of Saint Barbara at the 30th Field Artillery Regiment Saint Barbara's Celebration and ball, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I am very proud of this honor. Being the first woman in history (ARNG) to be assigned to a combat field artillery unit (1/144 FA) was the basis for my nomination.
The Honorable Order recognizes those individuals who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character, displayed an outstanding degree of competence and served the United States Army Artillery Branch with selflessness. They must have significantly contributed to the promotion of the Artillery in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient's seniors, subordinates, and peers alike.
The award authority for the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara is decentralized to the Field Artillery commanders who are full colonels or above. Division artillery commanders, Field Artillery brigade commanders, Marine artillery regiment commanders or corps artillery commanders have approval authority. Such commanders may approve the award for those in or associated with their commands. When there is no such Field Artillery commander available, the Commanding General of the United States Army Field Artillery Center and Fort Sill is the approving authority for the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara. The Honorable Order of Saint Barbara recognizes those individuals who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character; displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence; served the United States Army or Marine Corps Field Artillery with selflessness; and contributed to the promotion of the Field Artillery in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient's seniors, subordinates and peers, alike.
According to legend, Saint Barbara was the extremely beautiful daughter of a wealthy heathen named Dioscorus, who lived near Nicomedia in Asia Minor. Because of her singular beauty and fearful that she be demanded in marriage and taken away from him, he jealously shut her up in a tower to protect her from the outside world.
Shortly before embarking on a journey, he commissioned a sumptuous bathhouse to be built for her, approving the design before he departed. Barbara had heard of the teachings of Christ, and while her father was gone spent much time in contemplation. From the windows of her tower she looked out upon the surrounding countryside and marveled at the growing things; the trees, the animals and the people. She decided that all these must be part of a master plan, and that the idols of wood and stone worshipped by her parents must be condemned as false. Gradually she came to accept the Christian faith.
As her belief became firm, she directed that the builders redesign the bathhouse her father had planned, adding another window so that the three windows might symbolize the Holy Trinity.
When her father returned, he was enraged at the changes and infuriated when Barbara acknowledged that she was a Christian. He dragged her before the perfect of the province, who decreed that she be tortured and put to death by beheading. Dioscorus himself carried out the death sentence. On his way home he was struck by lightening and his body consumed.
Saint Barbara lived and died about the year 300 A.D. She was venerated as early as the seventh century. The legend of the lightning bolt which struck down her persecutor caused her to be regarded as the patron saint in time of danger from thunderstorms, fires and sudden death.
When gunpowder made its appearance in the Western world, Saint Barbara was invoked for aid against accidents resulting from explosions--since some of the earlier artillery pieces often blew up instead of firing their projectile, Saint Barbara became the patroness of the artillerymen.
Saint Barbara is usually represented standing by a tower with three windows, carrying the palm of a martyr in her hand. Often, too, she holds a chalice and a sacramental wafer and sometimes cannon are displayed near her. In the present calendars, the feast of Saint Barbara falls on December 4th and is traditionally recognized by a formal Dining-In or military dinner, often involving presentation of the Order of Saint Barbara.
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