Marriages that last until death do them part

Amelia Moir had a one-word answer yesterday when asked why her marriage to Jack, 80, had lasted 61 years.

“Tenacity,” said Mrs. Moir, while her husband grinned and nodded his head in agreement.

The couple, now living in Kensington, were married in 1944 in Arlington after Mr. Moir was discharged from the Army in World War II. She, like so many young women during that war, had taken a job with the government.

Now, they have three children and five — soon to be six — grandchildren.

“Our grandson just got back from a year in Iraq,” Mrs. Moir said, with more than a hint of thankfulness in her voice.

The Moirs were among more than 350 couples jammed into reserved front-section seats yesterday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to renew their vows of marriage made 25 to 69 years ago.

“Love is what makes our life richer and fuller,” said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington.

Others of the more than 1,200 in the shrine, who had been married for less than 25 years, also rose to repeat the vows and hold left hands for the blessing of marriage rings.

Then came the kisses. Some gentle and delicate. Others, well, … less delicate.

There were 19 couples married more than 60 years attending the annual Jubilarian Celebration. Honorees included 133 couples from Montgomery County, 114 from Prince George’s County, 33 from Southern Maryland and 21 from the District.

Many posed for photographs in front of the shrine altar afterward.

“This is our Christmas card, no question,” said one experienced groom proudly.

“I couldn’t resist her,” said Paul Finney of Bethesda, who met bride-to-be Martha at a dance in St. Louis. The couple have been married 57 years.

“She puts up with gruff and never tries it and never tires of it,” Mr. Finney said. “All of this is very, very good.”

Yesterday was extra special for Augustine, 82, and J. Kemp Cook, 80. They were married on June 5 exactly 57 years ago, in 1948. They had met just after he had been discharged from the Navy and returned to his hometown. She, from upper New York, was working for the federal government.

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