Today, Nov. 10, is the 234th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, an occasion I’ve observed since I joined the Corps in November 1943. Aside from my wedding day, that was the most important day in my life.
It is said that Marines are born, not made. I take exception to that. We may have a potential in our genes to become Marines, and perhaps even an inborn need to become one, but we have to be made into Marines. And when the Corps shapes and forms us, we become Marines and will be Marines until the day we die.
It's true: Once a Marine, always a Marine.
Every fiber of our being has been transformed, as if penetrated by some extraordinary set of stem cells introduced into our bodies in the clinics called Parris Island and San Diego. Marines may not be conscious of it, but everything we think, do, or say for as long as we live is colored by the formative process that turns raw recruits into U.S. Marines.
Marines are trained to see whatever confronts us in life as a hill that has to be taken, and we cannot rest until it is taken. Like Winston Churchill, we subscribe to the dictum: "Never, never, never ever give in." And as Marines have proved time and again, we don't.
That's second nature to Marines, whether we are still in active service or have returned to civilian life. It is no accident that the majority of Leathernecks, in and out of active service, are conservative in their politics, in their philosophy, and in their lifestyles.
Liberals don't see obstacles as hills to be taken. They see them as pieces of real estate to be bought with taxpayers' money, or as symbols of multiculturalism whose occupiers are entitled to respect for their sacred diversity. In that case, liberals either bypass the hill, try to buy it with taxpayers' money, or simply ignore it.
Marines' conservatism is an expression of the Corps' philosophy, which more than any other reflects that of the courageous men who founded this nation. They achieved the impossible in taking on the mightiest military force on the face of the Earth and, against all odds, defeating it after years of losing battle after battle. They created a system that took 13 mostly countrified colonies and made of them into the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation on the face of the earth. And they did it all in a couple of hundred years.
The lives Marines live, and the many great things they achieve no matter what the odds, give the lie to our critics. The Marines of the Third and Fifth Divisions who lost 6,000 of their number on Iwo Jima during 30 days of some of the worst fighting in World War II, yet never gave in until they took that piece of hell, are the genuine thing. And the Marines of the Thundering Third who took Fallujah are their heirs.
Today is the Marine Corps' 234th birthday. Take a minute out to say a prayer for all Marines, living or dead. You owe them that much.
Happy Birthday, fellow Marines.
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