November 10, 2018

This is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps

First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean

Me: active duty, 1974-1978. Rank upon discharge: sergeant.

There are times when it’s hard to consider myself a “real” Marine. I was in during a time that I’ve termed the Vietnam Hangover. It was not a stellar time for the Armed Forces, getting used to the construction and trappings of an all-volunteer force in the wake of that wasteful conflict.

Nevertheless, the Marines kept doing what they do, training hard and mercilessly, and instilling in their new recruits a pride that ends up residing in the heart forever.

“No such word as ‘can’t.'”
“The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.”
“You know where to find sympathy? In the dictionary.”

We lived with those and other similar expressions. It becomes a part of the psyche.

I have contemporaries who were real Marines, who carried weapons into conflict zones. I have a son who was a real Marine, bouncing over scrub in the Persian Gulf in a Humvee with a machine gun mounted. Me? I was an admin worker in a comfy building in HQ territory, with occasional forays to the rifle range, where I admittedly displayed some fearsome accuracy.

But beyond my little internal conflict over what is “real,” I got through boot camp, did my job, made my rank, and am reminded constantly of the attitudes and accomplishments of the branch in which I served. That doesn’t go away. And past any self-doubts, the pride lasts forever.

We are proud to claim the title
of United States Marine.

Happy birthday, you bad-asses. Semper fidelis.

— Grandpa

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