I am not one of them.
Only those who have worn the eagle, globe and anchor really understand what it means to be a Marine. The rest of us look on from afar, admiring their camaraderie and esprit de corps, but knowing we will never share their bond. Marines look at other Marines differently. Watch two of them and you will see. There is an empathy, a respect, a trust between them that those of us on the outside will never experience.
Marines join to be a part of something special. They know the risks. They understand the hardships. But inside each of them is a desire to be a part of an elite fighting force. A force that is feared around the world for its tenacity and pin-your-ears-back ferocity. When someone has to go, the Marines step forward and say, “Send me.”
In July 2008, when victory in Iraq became likely, the Commandant argued to shift the efforts of the Marines to Afghanistan. “It’s our view that if there’s a stiffer fight going on someplace else … then that’s where we need to be.” (Reuters)
Everyone knew what that meant. More violence. More danger. The badlands. Yet recruiting statistics showed an increase from 117 percent of goal that month to 118 percent in August. The people who join the Marines aren’t intimidated by a challenge. They welcome a challenge.
Born in a tavern 234 years ago to fight for independence, the Marines have continued the legacy created by their forefathers. Forged from the white-hot fires of conflict, they run toward the fight. They don’t ask who will go in first, because they know.
We all know.
It will be the Marines.
Happy Birthday, and Semper Fi.