By Rhonda Apple, Pentagram Staff WriterSeptember 20, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - The 78-year-old Old Post Chapel on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has been closed for eight months for a makeover. A ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the renovation of the historic building was held outside the chapel Sept. 18.
Pre-ceremony music was provided by The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.
Military leadership attending the ceremony included: Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Sherwood (Woody) D. Goldberg; Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan and his wife, Laura Buchanan; Chief of Chaplains, U.S. Army Chaplain Corps Chap. (Maj. Gen.) Donald L. Rutherford and Deputy Chief of Chaplains, U.S. Army Chaplain Corps Chap. (Brig. Gen.) Charles R. Bailey.
Members of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Honor Guard the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Honor Guard and the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard; The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own;" and The Old Guard's Caisson Platoon were also in attendance, representing the many units which play an important role in the full-honors funerals held at Old Post Chapel.
Following the singing of the national anthem by Master Sgt. Antonio Giuliano, vocalist with The U.S. Army Band, the invocation was delivered by Chap. (Brig. Gen.) Charles R. Bailey, deputy chief of chaplains, U.S. Army Chaplain Corps.
In opening remarks, JBM-HH Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter thanked the Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District, Summit Construction and the joint base staff "all who worked so diligently to restore a community icon that has stood for so many years as the symbol of the many lives this base and this chapel have touched."
She thanked Rutherford and the chaplain corps "for providing the much needed visibility on the deteriorating condition of Old Post Chapel, a landmark that was almost forgotten."
Sumpter also thanked JBM-HH Installation Chap. (Lt. Col.) Clyde Scott, who oversaw every aspect of the chapel's renovation.
Referencing historical moments from the 150th anniversary of the Civil War this year, the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the establishment of Fort Myer, which began as Fort Whipple, Sumpter reminded those in attendance "Remarkably, Fort Myer remains the only Civil War fort still in existence and operating today.
"Construction of the Old Post Chapel began in 1934 and was completed on April 17, 1935. Over the years, it has become the preferred location for christenings, weddings, worship and funeral services for those who have served this nation with distinction and dedication," said Sumpter. "The renovation was executed in a manner that preserved the historic feel of the chapel, while providing a few technological upgrades."
Sumpter said she was pleased with the technical additions which will assist the many ceremonial honor guards serving at the chapel.
Upgrades to the chapel include a new military ceremonial guard lounge, equipped with showers, a kitchen and a closed-circuit video monitoring system.
"This new addition will allow the unit leadership to monitor exterior ceremonial movements to aid in the precision timing of their operations," she explained.
Other renovations include: ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant exterior access ramp to the lower level; ADA compliant entrances; ADA compliant bathrooms upstairs and downstairs; fire protection improvements, including integrated fire alarm system and smoke detectors; an enclosed stairway to the lower level; protection of the church's pipe organ; Family Overflow Room improvements with a separate accessible entrance, two new accessible bathrooms and a kitchenette and a new mechanical room with new boiler and electrical system.
The renovation covers 6,780 square feet of finished space and cost $2,950,000.
"Every building has a great story ... and the Old Post Chapel story began in 1935. In just a few minutes, we'll be able to tour the chapel and see the renovations that have gone on in this story ... the story [that] was told by the stained glass windows in your program, the pipe organ and the book of registration," Rutherford said.
He encouraged guests to think about what they see as they walk through the chapel. "Think about all the people who will come here for comfort, for healing and for hope. Think about the people who come here and start their journey through life together. Think about the people who will come here and honor the end of a life's journey with a loved one. Think about the people of faith who have gathered here for worship and for community. And think about the people for whom Old Post Chapel represent some of life's most significant moments," he said.
"The Old Post Chapel serves as a very real reminder of our nation's commitment to leave no one behind, to bring every American warrior home with honor. In addition to providing a place of worship for the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall community, this wonderful old chapel has been home for final honors restored of our countless fallen service members from every branch of our armed forces, from veterans to our national leaders," said Rutherford.
"Old Post Chapel is a place that blends the diversity of richness of our armed forces into a single complimentary whole. The Caisson Platoon and the cap horse, the ceremony units and the bands representing each of the military branches - a complimentary whole whose mission is to honor and to remember" he said.
Following the speeches, a ribbon-cutting at the chapel's entrance was performed by Rutherford, Buchanan, Bailey and Sumpter.
The benediction was delivered by Scott.
Funeral services will resume at Old Post Chapel Sept. 23.