Most Museums Don't Have Chapels.. Except This One | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Most Museums Don't Have Chapels.. Except This One

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At the National Museum of the Marines, near Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, a bell rang out. It's the type of bell that used to ring in the evening aboard a battle ship, when soldiers who made it through that day might reflect on those who didn't. Under that bell, Lieutenant General Ron Christmas dedicated the Marine Museum's new Semper Fidelis Chapel.

"The toll of the ship's bell reminds us of the reverence we owe to our departed comrades in arms," he says.

Chapels, and chaplains, are a way of dealing with the loss that is inherent in serving in the Armed Forces. Rear Admiral Mark Tidd is Chaplain of the Marine Corps.

"The role of chaplains is to serve the spiritual needs of our people," he says.

He says there are over 200 different religions or denominations with chaplains in the Marine corps. Jon Hart has been a marine for 65 years, he stopped by for the dedication of the Marine Museum chapel. He remembers pitching chapels out of tents or huts out in the field after major battles.

"It's after things settle down and you're looking for a refuge somewhere that the chapel - tent, whatever - starts meaning something to you," he says.

The chapel is non-denominational. A compass on the floor allows worshipers who wish to do so to orient themselves eastward. There was not an orientation towards Mecca, as some Muslims pray in that direction.

Sabri Ben-Achour reports...

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