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What It Means to be a Marine

Today is the 234th birthday of the United States Marines.

I’m sitting here in my favorite coffee shop with tears in my eyes – partially because of how much the Corps means to me – but also because I’m not sure if I can relate to you just what being a Marine is all about. 

I could go on a history lesson about the Marines – about how they were born in a bar in Philidelphia, Pennsylvania in 1775, or how they have been the “Tip of the Spear” in every major conflict the U.S. has been involved in.

Or, I could go on about all the historic Marines like Smedley Butler, Chesty Puller, John Lejune, Pappy Boyington and more.  I could talk about all the famous Marines, like Ed McMahon, Jonathan Winters, Captain Kangaroo, John Glenn and more.

I could talk about the Medal of Honor recipients from the Corps, most who made the ultimate sacrifice.

But – you can read all about that yourself on the Internet.  Being a Marine is about being a part of something you almost can’t describe.

It is a bond that allows you to re-connect after two and a half decades of being out of touch – and when you connect, it was like you talked just last week.

It is the kind of bond where you are at the hospital when your buddy has his first child, because you ARE his family.

It is the kind of bond where your buddy names his son after you.

It is the kind of bond where when you are down in the dumps, you can pick up the phone, anytime of day or night, and your buddy will come over to help you talk it out. 

It is the kind of bond where you can call your former shipmate, tell him you are coming into town, and he will drop everything, make living arrangements, tell his wife that “company’s coming – cancel all our plans” and pick you up at the airport – even if you haven’t spoken in twenty years.

It is the kind of bond where you can go into your main business competitor’s office, see that he has an “I Love Me” wall with all his memorabilia from his time in the Corps, and he is instantly a friend, and no longer a competitor. 

It is the kind of bond when, in your darkest hour, when you are thinking you don’t have it anymore, you have skrewed up, and “what-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do-now”, you can look up on the wall at your Marine Corps Flag, picture of your graduation from Recruit Training and medals from your service and say, “No – I’ve been through things FAR worse than this – I can hack it.”

It is the kind of bond where you can see a veteran, wounded in combat who needs a helping hand in the airport, and you drop what you are doing, escort him where he needs to go and make sure he gets on the plane safely. 

It is the kind of bond where when you see a Marine, struggling to change a tire on the side of the road and not get hit by a car – you’ll get out of your car and stand behind him, waving your arms at the oncoming cars to protect his back – even though you have never met him 

It is the kind of bond where you will willingly run towards gunfire to get to a downed Marine and drag him to safety.

It is the kind of bond where you can be in a foreign country and see a group of Marines having a beer together and you can walk up, tell them “Semper Fi, Devil Dogs” and instantly have new best friends.

It is also the kind of bond where when you realize that you have NOT lived up to the standards of the Corps, you feel a crushing disappointment in your behavior – and you vow to get that s#$t squared away as soon as possible.

There is more, but I won’t be able to do it justice.

Today I want to wish all my fellow Marines – past, present and future – a very Happy Birthday.

I am proud to be a part of this most special fraternity, and I ask you to – if you get a chance – thank a Marine for his service and wish him a “Happy Birthday”.

When you have a chance, go check out this link and watch the USMC Birthday Message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps – I think you’ll like it.


Happy Birthday, Marines.

Semper Fidelis, (Always Faithful)

Sensei Huff

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