I served my country because I love freedom. I love it so much that I was willing to sacrifice some of my own freedom, or even my life if necessary, to secure it for myself and my nation. The young girl had the luxury of being uninformed about the military because my fellow Marines had bought that liberty for her. For 230 years, Marines had paid the cost to allow her to have the freedom to think - or not think - as she chooses.
After 9/11, we lost much of our innocence and it’s unlikely you'll find college students, even at Evergreen, who are unaware of the Marines. But it has been four years since the terrorists attacked us on our own soil; time enough to allow us to relax our guard, if only slightly. We haven’t won the war on terrorism yet, and we have many battles ahead -- including years of hard work in Iraq. But we should all take pride in the men and women of our military whose constant vigilance keeps the enemies outside our gates.
Just don't forget it is Navy Corpsmen that keep you all in business!
On November 10, 1775, 230 years ago, the Continental Congress authorized the formation of two battalions of Marines. Tradition says that the earliest recruiting of Marines took place at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, owned by Robert Mullan, who later became a Continental Marine officer. The Marines' first operation was a raid on a British base in the Bahamas. As I like to say, the Marine Corps was formed in a bar and then immediately went on a Caribbean cruise.... As Marine general Jim Mattis says, "The Marines: no better friend, no worse enemy."...And these Marines did a remarkable job against some pretty tough odds. As [Jim] Webb writes:Dropped onto the enemy's terrain 12,000 miles away from home, America's citizen-soldiers performed with a tenacity and quality that may never be truly understood. Those who believe the war was fought incompetently on a tactical level should consider Hanoi's recent admission that 1.4 million of its soldiers died on the battlefield, compared to 58,000 total U.S. dead. Those who believe that it was a "dirty little war" where the bombs did all the work might contemplate that it was the most costly war the U.S. Marine Corps has ever fought — five times as many dead as World War I, three times as many dead as in Korea, and more total killed and wounded than in all of World War II.
Significantly, these sacrifices were being made at a time the United States was deeply divided over our effort in Vietnam.As I always do, I'll be attending the Marine Corps Birthday Ball this year. It's one of the great social events of the year here in Newport, and there will be Marines as old as 90 and as young as 18. What do they have in common? That old and young alike are members of a remarkable martial fraternity — the United States Marine Corps. That those who have gone before have set a high standard. That those who can meet that standard ought to be very proud of themselves.