"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Corps: 233 years young

This weekend I'll be heading to Nevada to celebrate the 233rd birthday of our United States Marine Corps. The birthday ball is one of the Corps' oldest and most revered traditions, and as we missed it last year (we spent it in Iraq; because the Corps takes the birthday seriously, they managed to get us two beers each, but we spent the night in flak jackets and kevlar helmets as part of an indirect fire attack drill. No better way to party.), this year we're doing a massive blowout that involves a uniform pageant with period uniforms dating back to the Revoluntionary War mixed in with a trip to Vegas (little good will come of that, I'm sure). But at its heart, the ceremony remains unchanged from time immemorial. We'll read a birthday message from the current Commandant, review the seminal birthday message written by General Lejeune, have a cake-cutting with pieces going to the oldest and youngest Marines present, toast the president, secretary of defense and various other dignitaries, and finally, take a moment to remember all those Marines either MIA or in captivity whose fate remains unknown. And then we drink.

This year's birthday also comes on the heels of the passing of two fine Marines, Gen. Robert Barrow and Col. John Ripley. Gen. Barrow was the 27th Commandant of the Marine Corps, a three-war Marine (including the audacious Inchon landing), and a leader who believed that it was the quality of the people, not fancy equipment or gadgets, that made all the difference in the fight. Col. Ripley demonstrated his own audacity in Vietnam, and later fought many ugly but necessary battles in Congress and the courts of public opinion. Both were great Americans and great warfighters. They will be missed, and remembered. RIP and semper fi.

1 comment:

Lois said...

Happy Birthday!