Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday

Today is the 233rd anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corps. For those of us proud to be able to claim the title of U.S. Marine, this date, 10 November, is affectionately known as "The Birthday".

In 1775, war appeared to be looming between the American colonies and Great Britain. On 10 November of that year, the Second Continental Congress began organizing a military to confront the threat. Part of that military force was to be "two battalions of Marines", whose function was to be the defense of ships at sea, protection against mutinies, and offensive operations from ship to shore. Their organization began at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Marines have served in every American war and military operation since that time. The name "Marine" still inspires fear and awe in America's enemies, and a kind of pride and love that can only be fully understood by those who have proudly worn the Marine uniform. No other fraternity is as loyal. One of the best things about the Marines, in fact, is the loyalty between us. I can honestly say that if I were ever to fall on really hard times - if I were to be stranded in the middle of nowhere, whatever - there are 4 or 5 people I know for a fact would come to help me. That is rare in this world.
Charlie ("ChuckEddie") was one of those people. Charlie was my longest-term friend in the Corps. We served together for 45 of my 48 months on active duty. We were roommates in the barracks. We were close as brothers. I knew all his stories and he knew all of mine - good, bad, and ugly. There was no other Marine who better exemplified what being a Marine means. He was always there to help a friend in need. He was always quick with a hand, quick with a beer, quick with a joke, and poison with a gun. I would have trusted him with my most prized possessions. I'd have trusted him with my life. I am honored beyond words to know that he'd have trusted me with his. I looked forward to telling the old stories with ChuckEddie in our old years, on a porch somewhere in the American West that we both loved. We lost ChuckEddie in May. I miss him every day. The world, my life, and the Corps are poorer for his loss. This Birthday is bittersweet for those of us who loved Charlie.
I wish all my brothers and sisters in arms a very Happy Birthday, wherever they may be.
Semper Fidelis.