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Participants/observers of the National Day of Prayer attend service conducted in the U.S. Marine Memorial Chapel on May 5. The commemoration of the day was conducted by the chaplain's office onboard Marine Corps Base Quantico and religious leaders from five congregations in the community were invited to offer prayers for the world, the nation, our leaders, the armed forces, and our schools and families.

Photo by Adele Uphaus-Conner

Prayers offered for safety of troops and community at National Day of Prayer

16 May 2016 | Adele Uphaus-Conner Marine Corps Base Quantico

“The first thing the settlers did upon arriving on this land was pray,” said Cmdr. Jeff Etheridge, Marine Corps Base Quantico command chaplain, at the National Day of Prayer service held in the U.S. Marine Memorial Chapel aboard MCBQ May 5. “Our country was founded on prayer.” He quoted the seldom-heard final verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which ends: “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust’ / And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” The National Day of Prayer originated in 1952, when President Harry Truman signed a joint resolution by Congress declaring an annual day of prayer. President Ronald Reagan amended the law in 1988, permanently setting the day to the first Thursday in May. Each year on this day, Americans of all religions are encouraged to pray for the world, the nation and their communities. Quantico’s service was moved indoors from the Lejeune Hall parade deck due to the chilly, overcast weather. For the service, which was sponsored by Etheridge’s office, religious leaders from five congregations in the community were invited to offer prayers for the world, the nation, our leaders, the armed forces, and our schools and families. The participating clergy were Rev. Don Sampson of Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Dumfries, Rev. Mark Miller of Ebenezer Methodist Church in Stafford, Rev. Kevin Downey of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Triangle, Pastor Todd Gaston of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Stafford, and Rabbi Michael Weinstein of Beth Sholom Temple in Fredericksburg. In his prayer for the world, Samson asked that attendees “circle the globe” with their prayers, especially as Marines, soldiers and sailors are deployed around the world. “Prayer begins as desire and it turns into a discipline and a delight,” said Miller in his prayer for the nation. “Let us rekindle our commitment to love, speak, and think in ways that build community.” Downey asked in his prayer for the country’s leaders that they be given the wisdom and courage to find the right path and that they “carry power reverently as you would a child.” Gaston prayed that the thousands of members of the armed forces serving around the world know that they are not alone. Weinstein offered a prayer for the nation’s schools and families, asking that “we appreciate one another and respect the many ways there are to serve [God].” His prayer was accompanied by ethereal musical prayer performed by his wife and Beth Sholom Temple’s cantor, Laurie Weinstein. Following the prayers, Col. Joseph Murray, MCBQ commander, spoke as the guest of honor. “The guy who got a D in religion is following the pastor, the priest, and the rabbi,” he joked. “What an incredible outreach this is,” he continued. “What an incredible opportunity to have the community come together with the base.” Murray said that Marines are steeped in the ethos of “mission first,” but that it is crucial to remember the moral and ethical foundations of the mission first. “My motto is ‘mission first, Marines and people always,’” he said. “I challenge all my leaders and you to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to achieve and reach his or her full potential.” He concluded: “Let us make our nation better by praying for our community.” Writer:

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