News: Blessed be the Marine Corps
Story by Lance Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson
QUANTICO, Va. - The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a chapel as a small house of worship usually associated with a main church.
Marine Corps Base Quantico re-defines that definition with re-opening of the United States Marine Corps Memorial Chapel at the Post-Renovation Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Sept. 21.
In 1956, while the chapel was being rebuilt after being too small to meet the needs of the post, Gen. Randolph McCall Pate, 21st Commandant of the Marine Corps designated it as The United States Marine Corps Memorial Chapel. It was dedicated to the memory of all Marines and their Navy comrades who have died in the service of their country.
Back in July of 2010, the Marine Memorial Chapel started undergoing renovations. During this time, no services were celebrated in the chapel. Also, the chapel was unavailable for use of weddings, funerals, memorial services, or other special services. Services were held at Little Hall, the Base Theater.
“$1.65 million went into renovating the chapel,” said Navy Capt. Robert Keane, the base command chaplain. “Today we are reopening the chapel officially.”
“There was a lot of anticipation to see the final product,” said Col. Daniel Choike, the commander of Marine Corps Base Quantico. “I purposely stepped back from seeing the work early so I could be just as surprised as everyone else.”
Plenty of people came out to the ceremony, including the Quantico Marine Corps Brass Quintet who played before the ceremony and during the introduction.
“I’m glad I had the chance to be here,” said Aaron Lindsey one of the members of the Quantico Marine Corps Brass Quintet. “I believe this event was more symbolic than anything. It definitely touches my heart to see the chapel finally re-opening.”
With $1.65 million invested in the renovation of the chapel, there were plenty of changes put in.
“We have done to the chapel.” said Rick Drake, manager for the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction office. “We put brand new carpet and tile in just about the whole chapel. The pews were disassembled, put on a truck and sent to New York for refurbishing. Later on they were put back together and put back in place.”
“During refurbishing process some of the pews towards the front were shortened to add wheel-chair space. We expanded the door frame for wheel-chair accessibility as well as a ramp. We put in a new fire suppression and fire alarm system and advance notification system. There was also brand new lighting, as well as new finishes on the wall,” Drake said.
After the ceremony, as people walked around the chapel admiring the work, Choike felt that this reopening differed from others before it.
“I do not look at this ceremony as a new building re-opening,” said Choike. This is more like Quantico getting back acquainted with an old friend. What makes this place so special is more than the materials being put into this building. It’s the many memories of community gatherings, ceremonies and honoring those who may have fallen.”
The first official service will takes place Sunday October 2.