These are the words inscribed on the Marine Corps Memorial. They were uttered by Navy Admiral Nimitz while watching the Marines assault the beach head at Iwo Jima. The notion of valor has been instilled in marines. At Paris Island our lectures contained numerous examples of not only invidividual bravery, but of the sacrifices made by marines and the courage it took in never leaving a fellow marine behind. That spirit is seen still. Find a marine and watch him/her sometimes when he/she runs across another marine. What what happens. There is a bond there that is shared, a comraderie. The poor fools who so casually talk about brain washing, following orders, loss of individuality will never understand “belonging” to the degree that the Marine they laugh at does. And for the laughing, go to the local vets center and sit down with a W W 2 marine and ask about what it was like to do a beach assault that didn’t reach the beach, but instead having to scramble over 100 yards of reef at low tide (while being shelled by the enemy) and watching your buddy fall into a deep tidal pool and drown because his gear weighs him down. It is easy, far too easy to proclaim one’s self a peacenik and to likewise hold contempt, distrust, and hate for those who are vets. But before one is quick to judge, sit down and talk to someone who’s lived through the Japanese prisoner of war marches and transport ships.
Today is the birthday of the Marine Corps, created by an act of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775. The motto of the Marine Corps is Semper Fidelis, which is latin for “always faithful”… faithful to our god, our country, our corps, our family, and our selves… those five things in that order. Ours is a motto which states our heart first, what we hold our values in. Our training gives us the resources to keep what we hold dear from harm.
There are times when I wonder what it might have been like had I went straight to college. But when I think of the proud tradition and brotherhood that I joined and made their history a part of my own, I am proud to have been (and still am) a Marine. Once a Marine Always a Marine, a common saying in the corps. It means that while marines might end their enlistment… but the character, the heart, the comraderie, the valor of the marine will always be a part of him/her… he/she will always be a marine.