TRIANGLE, VA. — The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation dedicated the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel with a crowd of hundreds of U.S. Marine Corps general officers in attendance at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on Oct. 22.
The nondenominational chapel will serve as a contemplative space where Marines and all visitors can remember the service and sacrifices of those who have served the U.S. The chapel will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and is available for weddings, funerals and other military ceremonies through the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. Designed by Denver-based Fentress Architects, architects of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the chapel’s structure evokes images of improvised field chapels familiar to all combat Marines.
Ceremony speakers included Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work; Lt. Gen Ron Christmas, president and c.e.o. of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation; Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway; and Marine Captain Timothy Day, who is also chairman and c.e.o. of Phoenix-based Bar-S Foods, and his wife, Sandy. Mr. and Mrs. Day, along with the Timothy Day Foundation, donated $5 million to construct the chapel.
Ceremony highlights included a Navy bell-ringing ceremony with students of the Marine Corps University, and the playing of Taps by a Marine Corps Band bugler followed by a 21-gun salute. Rear Admiral Mark L. Tidd, Chaplain of the Marine Corps, provided the Benediction. A ribbon cutting officially opened the chapel to the public.
The timber, glass and stone structure, standing within Semper Fidelis Memorial Park adjacent to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, includes an 8-foot tall etched glass, iconic image of a Marine kneeling in prayer, and a reflecting pool.
"It is my belief that as our Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel takes its place within this Marine Corps Heritage Center, it will soon serve as a welcoming sanctuary, a place of remembrance and reflection to all Marines, past and present," said Lt. Gen Ron Christmas, president and c.e.o. of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.
The dedication of the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel took place three weeks before the third birthday of the National Museum, which has welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors to date. The addition of the chapel in Semper Fidelis Memorial Park continues the expansion of the Marine Corps Heritage Center.
Overlooking the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the park is situated on 23.2 acres of high ground and plays an important part in the Museum visitor’s experience. As expansion continues, the park will grow to include a water feature commemorating the Corps’ nautical tradition, as well as an additional network of paths that will extend throughout the wooded grounds.