Hundreds of U.S. service members and their families attended Ash Wednesday services at chapels on Marine Corps Air Station New River and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Feb. 26.

The Christian holy day commemorates the first day of Lent, a period of 40 days that serve as a time for reflection through prayer and fasting leading up to Easter.

During an Ash Wednesday service, the service leader provides remarks and reads a prayer before applying ashes in the shape of a cross to the forehead of congregates. The ashes are obtained by burning the palms used from the previous Palm Sunday and signify mortality and penitence.

“Being spiritually strong is just as important as being mentally and physically strong for mission readiness,” said Sgt. James D. Snider, a crew chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464, MCAS New River. “Honor, courage and commitment should be applied to every aspect of a Marine’s life, including one’s faith.”

The conclusion of the 2020 Lenten period is Thursday, April 9, three days ahead of Easter. In addition to other services on the base and station, an Easter Sunrise Service is scheduled for April 12 at 6:45 a.m. at the 2nd Marine Logistics Group Amphitheater on MCB Camp Lejeune.