Today is the 248th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Tomorrow is Veterans Day. These two days have always been important to me. Many members of my family and acquaintance have served in the armed forces. Most notably my father, who served in Korea as a member of the United States Marine Corps.
My father taught me the Marine’s Hymn when I was little. Every year on November 10th we’d celebrate the Marine Corps’ birthday by singing it. We never missed a year. That first November 10th when I went away to college, he called and greeted me with, “Happy Birthday Marines! Ready?” I always was. We sang.
Dad loved The Corps. He loved and respected the men he served with and anyone who earned the right to wear the uniform. He credited the Marine Corps for making him the man he was. And I’ll tell you, he was something. He lived his life with the values he brought to and took away from his time in the Marines. I consider it a collaboration.
When people ask me about my father, I’ll tell them he was a Marine. Then I correct myself. He is a Marine. He was quick to point out to people who used the past tense that the oath doesn’t have an expiration date. In that spirit, I believe that not being alive hasn’t changed his promise to bear allegiance and faith to the Constitution of the United States. Marines are sticklers like that.
I’m grateful to The US Marine Corps for the man it helped forge and for a tradition I have now continued for 25 years on my own. It isn’t quite the same, singing the Hymn as a solo. But I can feel him next to me smiling at and proud of the nation he served so faithfully. That’s why today I’ll cue up the band and literally sing the song of my father.
I hope he can hear me and knows that I remember this day and the next. And that I remember the history and the sacrifice of all those who have served in every branch of the United States Armed Forces. I will always remember and I will always keep the faith.
Semper fidelis, Dad.
The Marines’ Hymn“From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.“