What does it mean to be a Marine? They say that once you become a Marine, you are always one. There’s more truth in that for me today than when I first became an enlisted Marine several decades ago. I can’t speak for anyone other than myself but the lessons learned and the values shared in that limited group of which I became a part stays with me today. Going back and looking at when I first joined, I was a young kid wanting to prove something to myself and some of my relatives that had served during WWII and beyond. I didn’t have the mind-set to want to go to war but I knew once I made the choice to enlist, the option was no longer there.
I’ve become the last of a legacy in the generations which preceded me. I was the last member of my direct family line to serve in the military. Our family line has served in the service since this nation was formed. There has to be something in the DNA for that to have gone on for so long.
Memorial Day is almost here when I write this and there are several ideas floating around in my mind, or as they say in the Corps; “my brain housing group”. I don’t see myself as someone who has sacrificed for my country, primarily because I didn’t serve in a theater of war. I have no longing for it to have been otherwise however I do feel a profound respect for all that have and continue to do so to this day.
It doesn’t matter what branch of service you are in or your specific duty, you are going to dedicate several years of your life for the protection of your country, and your comrades under arms. The Marines swear an oath to God, Country and Corps. Someone outside of this group may think this sounds out of date or out of step with modern society. I can tell you with absolute certainty, it’s as important today for every Marine to keep this tradition. Since its inception, the Marine Corps has kept that faithful tradition and has made the mantra a part of a value system which doesn’t go away on the date of discharge.
The one thing each Marine has in common, from the lowly Private to the Commandant of the Marine Corps is an oath and a tradition of self-sacrificing service. Yes, upon occasion we read or hear about someone who has broken or thrown away these values but as most realize, these are the exception and we have a lot of very fine people to thank for that unbroken chain of commitment since November 1775.
Our nation as well as several others around the globe owe our liberties to the many willing and outstanding honorable men and women who have served in all branches of the military. Their willingness to step forward and shoulder the responsibility for the protection of all others is sufficient reason for all to honor and thank those who have or continue to serve our nation. To all those families who have or continue to support the men and women in the military we should be grateful and thank them without hesitation too.