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By reforming this program veterans and their families are able to trust the VA and its agents to act lawfully and ethically on their behalf.

• On Nov. 2, 2012, Mack’s Marines will gather at Crawford Hall, Marine Barracks, 8th and Eye streets, NE to celebrate the 237th Birthday of the U. S. Marine Corps. This is the 37th straight year Mack’s Marines has celebrated the Marine Corps Birthday.

The organization dates back to November 10, 1975, when five Marines, led by Sgt Maj Mack McKinney met on Capitol Hill to celebrate the Bi-Centennial of the Marine Corps. They had no specific name, but met each year for the Birthday celebration, at one point having up to 240 participants. Downsizing to about 30 attendees, Sgt Maj McKinney named the group The Gang of 30. Upon his death in 2006, the Gang changed its name to Mack’s Marines to honor his legacy and tenacity.

Almost 130 guests are expected to reconnect with comrades in arms and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow Marines, telling tall sea stories and toasting the Corps. Festivities will begin at 11 a.m. with the luncheon beginning at noon. The traditional cake-cutting ceremony will also take place as the guest of honor cuts the birthday cake, and then presents the first piece of cake to the oldest Marine present and the next piece to the youngest Marine present. A good time will be had by all.

For more information, call Aretha Wright at 202/302-6708.

As usual, this event will begin with the following invocation:

“O Lord, we have long known that prayer should include confession. Therefore, on behalf of the Marines and their guests here gathered, I confess their sins: Lord, they’re just not in step with today’s society.

“They are unreasonable in clinging to old-fashioned ideas like patriotism, duty, honor and country. They hold radical ideas like believing that they are their brother’s keeper and responsible for the Marine on their flank. They have been standing when colors pass, singing the national anthem at ballgames and drinking toasts to fallen comrades.

“Not only that, they have been observed standing tall, taking charge and wearing their hair unfashionably short. They have taken John Kennedy’s words too seriously and are overly concerned with what they can do for their country, instead of what this country can do for them.

“They take the Pledge of Allegiance to heart and believe that the oath is to be honored. Forgive them, Lord, for being stubborn men and women who hold fast to such old-fashioned values. After all, what can you expect? They’re Marines.

“O Lord our God, bless our misguided ideals, continue to raise up in this nation strong leaders and deliver us from ‘me-first’ managers and ‘don’t ask me’ followers.

“Be our honored guest this day. Let it be a day of laughter, good food, good drink, and the telling of tall tales and legends that far exceed the truth.

“Watch over and keep safe those who wear this nation’s uniform with special attention to their families everywhere.

“Now through this day and all the days ahead, God bless this great Nation and God bless the Corps.”

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email