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2013 Marine Corps Birthday celebration

Article and Photos by Mary Alice Murphy

The Marine Corps League Gaffney-Oglesby Detachment 1328 hosted the 238th Marine Corps birthday at its annual celebration, always held on Nov. 10. The venue this year was the cafeteria at Western New Mexico University. Raves were heard around the room on the excellent food, great service and comfortable space for the event.

Dean Bearup served as master of ceremonies. Shane Gabbert gave the invocation at the beginning and the benediction at the end.

Larry Himes posted the U.S. flag, and Ben Collins, the Marine Corps flag. Guests at the head table were Betty and Leo McCann from Albuquerque, who have attended the event in Silver City for the past few years, "because it's a great party." Carol and Master Sgt. Robert Gaines, Ret., sat beside the McCanns. Robert Gaines was the featured speaker. At the table on the other side of the podium were Detachment Commandant Larry Himes and his wife, Betty, as well as past Commandant Robert Lopez and his wife, Danna.

Bearup gave a brief history of the Marine Corps, which was founded in a tavern on Nov. 10, 1775.

"On Veterans' Day, we should be jumping for joy in the streets," Bearup said. "Memorial Day should be solemn, but we should on Veterans' Day celebrate our freedoms because of those who have served."

He pointed out a small table set for one in front of the podium. He explained it is set for the prisoner of war or missing in action who cannot celebrate the Corps' birthday with the Marines. The size of the table indicates the frailty of one prisoner alone; the single rose is from the family to keep faith for the loved one's return; the red ribbon for honor; the lemon for the prisoner's bitter fate; the salt for the countless tears from families; the inverted glass because the prisoner cannot toast his comrades; the single empty chair to represent the prisoner or missing person; and the candle to light his way home. These all portray to God to keep safe the prisoners and those missing in action.

After the meal, Shane Gabbert read the names of the local Marines who have died within the past year.

Carlos Nevarez, Sr., who lost his Marine Corps son, Carlos, Jr., this past year, read the 1912 Marine Corps Commandant Major General John A. Lejeune's birthday message. Ben Collins read the current Commandant USMC General James F. Amos' birthday message.

The cake-cutting ceremony has the cake sliced with a ceremonial sword. As in past years, Charles Howard does the ceremonial cake cutting. Detachment member Jennie Reynolds baked the cake for the occasion. The first piece of cake is presented to the oldest attending Marine, which this year was Leonard Pritikin, born in May 1920. He eats one bite of the piece of cake and passes it to the youngest Marine present, who this year was Shaun Wells.

Robert L. Gaines, USMC 1st Sgt, retired from the Korean Conflict, gave the featured address.

Five toasts were given, followed by benediction, the Marine Hymn and, after tables were cleared, a dance was held.

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