WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Chaplains within the National Capital Region gathered together at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Officer's Club to celebrate the 238th anniversary of the Navy Chaplain Corps Nov. 6.
While Nov. 28 marks the official Chaplain Corps anniversary, the Nov. 6 celebration, hosted by chaplains from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, marked the first of numerous celebrations to be held globally throughout the month.
The program featured an anniversary video message from the Chief of Navy Chaplains Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd, highlighting the Chaplain Corps' heritage, and the key role chaplains have played throughout history to support the free exercise of religion for all in the Naval service, both at sea and ashore. Tidd also focused on the need for chaplains "to help our people develop the spiritual resilience to cope with the inevitable hardships of military life."
In his message, Tidd also addressed the challenges service members and families face as they experience the realities and effects of multiple deployments and combat tours. "We can never lose sight of our ability to offer that confidential space-that sanctuary-where our people can regain a sense of wholeness and hope. We must continue to guard and protect this sacred trust placed in us."
The video also made reference to this year's 40th anniversary of women in military chaplaincy, a significant milestone for the Navy as the first service branch to commission a female chaplain.
During his opening remarks, Tidd reflected on how chaplains are "essential to the readiness and resilience of our Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, their families and, as the tragic shootings at the Washington Navy Yard reminded us, our dedicated civilians." He extended his thanks to all chaplains who have answered the call to serve those "who stand watch at the gates of freedom, who sail in harm's way, and who march to the sound of cannons."
Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, Surgeon General for the U.S. Navy, was the evening's honorary guest speaker focusing on the theme of humanity. During his remarks, he emphasized how "we, in Navy medicine, work as partners with chaplains through the most intimate moments in a person's life, from the joy of birth to the sorrow of loss. I can't think of a higher calling than to be present and intercede in these dramatic moments, to provide sustenance to the souls of people to the very end."
Nathan went on to add, "our jobs are to preserve life and bring humanity to anybody and everybody who seek it. The Navy, by design, is America's away team. As Navy chaplains operate forward and embed within units, they are able to bring and maintain humanity for those far away from home. As we go through the anxiety of a changing mission for the Navy, longer deployments, and separation from family, chaplains are often the bridge to humanity and hope that can make that difference."
The ceremonial cake-cutting followed the remarks, honoring the youngest and most senior chaplains present. Lt. William Edmund Newsome had been on active-duty just three days as a Navy chaplain while Capt. Johnny Poole, command chaplain for Naval installations command, has served for 28 years in the Chaplain Corps.
The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's color guard and the Navy Cruisers, who performed the National Anthem and "Eternal Father Strong to Save," also added to the evening's esprit de corps.
Cmdr. Matthew Stevens delivered the benediction at the close of the ceremony. "Take us back to the sacred moment where we discerned your calling to serve...May we bring clarity to moral confusion, restoration to those who are torn asunder, and hope to all who struggle."
For more news from Chaplain Corps, visit www.chaplain.navy.mil.