"O Lord, please bring them back home safe."
With those heartfelt words, retired Marine Bob Gilmore closed the moment of silence for those currently serving in the military overseas.
It was followed by a loud "amen" from the nearly 150 people attending the Marine Corps annual birthday ball Saturday at the Brookings Elks Lodge.
The event, also a fundraiser for the corps' Toys for Tots program, marked the 227th birthday of the corps. Members from every branch of the U.S. military were represented.
"Everyone had a good time, and, of course, it's all for a good cause," said Gilmore, commandant for the Department of Oregon Marine Corps League.
All the proceeds from the event went to Toys for Tots, a program that provides gifts to needy Brookings-Harbor children at Christmas. This years Toys for Tots raffle netted about $1,200, Gilmore said.
High points of the evening included the formal posting of the Colors by the U.S. Marine Color Guard from the I&I staff in Eugene. The event also recognized representatives of all other military branches of service, playing the appropriate songs as each service member, or former service member, stood.
A small empty table set in the middle of the room symbolized frailty of prisoners alone against oppressors. It was covered with a white cloth to denote the purity of their cause, a single rose represented waiting families and loved ones, a slice of lemon in remembrance of their bitter fate and salt representing the tears of family and friends. After each item of the service was mentioned, guests were urged, "remember."
The inverted glasses and empty chairs around the table reflected the absence of the missing veterans from all five services.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of the prestigious "Chapel of the Four Chaplains Pin," named in recognition of four chaplains who were posthumously awarded Distinguished Service Crosses Dec. 1, 1944, for selfless heroism.
The chaplains, two protestants, a Catholic and a Jew, gave their life vests to soldiers departing the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, which sank after being hit by a torpedo. The four men stood on the tilting deck praying out loud until she rolled over and sank.
The recipients of this year's pins are:
Bill Cochran, Sgt. at Arms for the Coos-Curry Detachment 578 of the Marine Corps League.
Mario Sarge Piper, Chaplain for Detachment 578.
Bill Boyer, Commander of the American Legion Post 196 in Brookings-Harbor and past commander of the Oregon Department of the American Legion.
Maryls Boyer, president of District 9 American Legion Auxiliary.
Brookings resident Joe Ochsie, the oldest Marine present, performed the ceremonial cutting of the cake, a bite of which was served to the youngest marine present.