If you have never visited Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel on the grounds of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, you have missed visiting a truly inspirational place. It is a breathtakingly beautiful building, an edifice of stone, rich wood and soaring glass that derives much of its beauty from the surrounding landscape. It is also breathtakingly simple. Nestled in the woods, it was designed to pay homage to the improvised chapels found in the field, attended by those who bear the burden of war.
Last Wednesday was nothing short of a glorious spring day in Virginia. The skies were crystal clear, without a cloud, and vibrant blue. A warm breeze stirred the air. Springtime had brought the grounds surrounding the chapel to life. I was struck by how green the trees were, and by the sound of birds singing. And on this glorious spring day, several people had gathered for a private ceremony to dedicate the “Sacrifice” window in memory of Navy chaplain, and Medal of Honor recipient, Father Vincent Capodanno.
As a former theology student, and a Marine Corps historian, I have long had an interest in those chaplains who have chosen to serve with the Fleet Marine Force. Of particular interest to me were those who served in Vietnam. It was many years ago that I first heard of the “Grunt Padre,” Father Capodanno.