This Sunday and Monday the citizens of this great nation will have the opportunity to salute and honor some men and women who have done a great deal for every single one of us. They have provided each of us with our freedom. It sounds so cliché to say, "Freedom isn't free" But that statement is so very true. Whether standing the watch or going into a battle the Veterans are the payers of that price for our liberty.
This Monday, the United States Marine Corps will celebrate its birthday.
On Nov. 10, 1775 the Corps came into existence and ever since that day the Marines have stood ready to help create a nation and then to preserve it. They have never had a mutiny in their ranks and their foes have always seemed to regret having to go up against such a well-trained fighting force.
The First Marine Division motto of, "No better friend, no worse enemy" says it all. The Marines are a different breed to say the least. I often hear veterans state, "I was in the Navy" or "I used to be in the Army, and sometimes I would hear, "I served in the Air Force." A Marine always considers themselves to be a Marine. "Once a Marine, always a Marine."
There are a number of famous Marines such as "Chesty" Puller but the greatness of the Corps to me in the everyday Marine. Those are the people that bought into the calling of being a Marine and those are the folks that served day in and day out without the glory and usually with a great deal of the garbage that comes in a battle.
Those Marines are the ones the enemy feared because the enemy respected the training and the commitment that was and is represented by the title of U.S. Marine. So on the 10th the Marines will gather at Evergreen Conference Center in Oakhurst and around the world to have a piece of cake and to celebrate their great legacy.
The youngest and oldest Marine in each gathering will share the honor and duty of cutting the cake.The Marine Hymn will be played or sung and stories told. Beverages of all kinds will be consumed and then buddies who have gone to guard the streets of heaven will be remembered.
My dad's first piece of cake was eaten at Guadalcanal with the First Marine's in 1942 his last piece consumed was in 1991. His son enjoys being invited each year to the gala to dine and have cake with those heroes in the room.
The other group who is to be honored on Monday are all the veterans of the United States. On Memorial Day we honor the war dead and the battle injured. On Veteran's Day we honor and thank every man and woman who has ever donned the uniform of the nation to protect us. They took the oath and they agreed to put their lives on hold and on the line for little reward except the knowledge that they would buy the next generation's freedom.
The common foot soldier up to the five star generals are all heroes to me. They did the job and they faced the danger. It is our opportunity to thank them. I make it a point of thanking every Veteran I meet and the response seems to always being, "I was glad to do it" or "We were just doing our job." That is the reply that gets to me. "Just doing their job" doesn't quite cut it for me. They trained, they crawled in mud, stood in the rain and cold, faced bullets, waged battles, got injured, became disabled, and some died.
They faced danger and they endured hardships and they served honorably and then tell me it was "just doing their job."
Sorry. When I think of Lexington and Concord, Tripoli, Manila, Iwo Jima, Berlin, Normandy, the South Pacific, Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, and so many other places where they did what they did for us I just can't think of their actions as, "just doing their job."
So to our Marines I say Happy Birthday and Semper Fi. To all the veterans in this area and around the globe I say a heartfelt thank you, thank you, thank you