By Sgt. Robert Schaffner Jr., 4th IBCT, 3rd ID Public AffairsMay 28, 2010
FORT STEWART, Ga. -Approximately 35 Soldiers and their spouses who will soon be separated by a war and thousands of miles, gathered at Club Stewart to renew vows of unconditional love and commitment to one another, May 20.
The couples assigned to the 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion took part in the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team-hosted Coin and Covenant ceremony organized to help strengthen marriages before an upcoming deployment.
"The Coin and Covenant ceremony, now in its fifth series of events since its inception in 2009 at Fort Stewart is the first for 4th Brigade," said 4th IBCT Chaplain (Maj.) David Cromeenes, who added that five other battalions and a headquarters element participated in separate ceremonies over the past two weeks.
The brigade chaplain explained that event is to help prevent emotional trauma and provide Soldiers and Family Members an emotional bond, both psychological and tangible.
"Taking time out to come out here to do this is very important," said Pfc. Christopher Marcum, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4-3 BSTB, who attended the ceremony with his wife, Jessica. "We have been married for ten years, and this will be our first deployment."
During the event, Pfc. Marcum and other Sentinel Battalion Soldiers were asked to write out their commitment to their spouses on paper. The men were seated on one side of the large banquet room and the women on the opposite side while each person detailed their thoughts as a love song echoed softly throughout the room.
"Here couples can look into each other's eyes and make tangible deposits with their writing of words onto paper, things that they may not have thought of in years," Chap. Cromeenes said.
The letters were then sealed in envelopes and exchanged between the couples with instructions not to open until a later date during the deployment. Very few dry eyes could be witnessed throughout the room as the envelopes were exchanged.
After tender embraces and gentle words, the couples then lined up for the final event of the evening, the passing out of the Mizpah coin pendants.
Mizpah, which means watchtower dates back thousands of years, and is mentioned in the Old Testament verse Genesis 31:49. The Bible verse is imprinted across the two interlocking pieces of the pendant, and reads "The Lord watch between me and thee, while we are absent one from another."
Each spouse took a portion of the pendant and draped it around their loved one's neck.
"This ceremony has given us the opportunity to bring us closer together and show each other that we will be there for each other no matter what," said Jessica Marcum.
The 4th IBCT is scheduled to deploy to Iraq this summer.