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February 18, 2005

No Better Friend

JW sent me two articles from Victor Davis Hanson about his nephew, a young Marine. Together, they're entitled, "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy" and they do an outstanding job of capturing the duality that is the United States Marine Corps: what I've talked about so many times before (most recently in the context of the Gen. Mattis uproar). A balance of chivalry and ferocity, of extreme tenderness when dealing with a child or a woman and absolute resolution when dealing with America's enemies.

The media don't get it. People who don't know Marines up close and personal, don't get it.

When I was just a brand-new 2nd Lieutenant's wife reared in a Navy family I didn't quite know what to think of the Marine Corps. To my Navy eyes, they sometimes seemed a bit brash, a bit unpolished, a bit... un-cosmopolitan.

I don't think that now. Looking at Marines from the outside, it's easy to see just the superficial picture: the recruiting poster, the "baby-killer" of the anti-war crowd, the warrior, the gung-ho guy who thinks with his muscles. But there's so much more to these men and women - a million reasons they joined the Corps. Some are so intelligent they could be running their own corporations. Some were at the top of their classes at elite colleges, or tested in the top one or two percent of the nation. Some are working men, or recent immigrants to our shores who barely speak English. But one and all, they chose to serve their country because there is one quality Marines share: a deep and abiding love for America and a fierce desire to protect our freedoms and our way of life.

Maybe reading these two pieces will help get the picture across. I hope so.

No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy, Part I

No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy, Part II

Posted by Cassandra at February 18, 2005 02:00 PM

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I pulled the following from the comments section at Villainous Company, it was written by an immigrant from somewhere behind the Iron Curtain (not sure where) who goes by the name of a former european. [Read More]

Tracked on February 18, 2005 05:25 PM

Comments

Cass: Your title applies to America as a whole, not just the military.

I wish I could adequately describe to native-born Americans the special place that the USA holds in the hearts of freedom-loving people around the world. It truly is a beacon of hope; a shining city on a hill.

Pay no attention to the snide comments of your enemies or the snarky comments of the jealous has-beens of "Old Europe". Deep in their hearts, they know the truth about America and this is what fuels their rage. It is the hatred of the righteous man by the wicked.

Merely by existing, that man (or nation) highlights the failings of those others. The righteous man (or nation) by their actions holds up a mirror which reflects all of the ugliness of the evil man's (or nation's) deeds. The wicked would rather smash the mirror because they cannot handle the truth about their own wickedness.

For freedom-loving peoples, though, the US has always been the promised land; a land of opportunity and an escape from the tyranny which prevails in most of the rest of the world. The US has never lacked for immigrants because of this.

As an immigrant, but now a naturalized citizen for the last few decades, I am keenly aware of the precious gift of freedom and liberty that I am blessed to receive every day as an American. It often saddens me, though, that so many Americans are blind to this or take their freedoms for granted. If this were not the case, the Dimocrats would not exist as a political party.

Why do you think that the most conservative, anti-Dimocrat groups are immigrants from totalitarian or tyrannical regimes around the world? They have heard the false promises and empty rhetoric before, and seen the results, and they're not buying it.

When I listen to the spokespersons of the modern Dimocratic Party, they sound identical to the propaganda I heard in the former Soviet Bloc. I suspect it is the same for the Cubans. Communism has caused more human misery and evil than any other form of govt or any religion in human history. Nevertheless, modern Dimocrats would trade away our precious freedoms, bought and preserved by the precious blood of brave Americans for centuries, in order to revisit the Soviet and Socialistic misery and failures of the past.

I cannot describe how strongly I feel about this. The best example I can come up with is a seemingly nice guy who hangs out in the communty park. He has a pleasant demeanor, and all the parents like him. They let him play with their kids because he seems safe and harmless. You, however, know him to be a child-molester. What do you do? Do you simply close your eyes to the situation and hope that nothing horrible happens, or do you do everything in your power to convince the parents and kids to wake up to the danger.

Other nations in the past were seduced by the false promises of Communism, and they paid a heavy price in pain and misery for it. The difference was that, even in those dark days, the oppressed people still had America as a beacon of hope that they too could someday be free.

Americans gave their money, their toil, and their blood, to liberate nations throughout the 20th Century. If America falls to the Dimocratic vision of a new People's Republic, who will come to our rescue? The French? Zimbabwe? North Korea?

I still get choked up when I hear the National Anthem, see the Statue of Liberty, and on the 4th of July, Veteran's Day, and Memorial Day. These, to me, are not meaningless rituals or an excuse to party (even if I do celebrate and party on the 4th), but a real expression of my love for this great nation and my thankfulness to all those brave men and women who have sacrificed themselves so that I can stand here today as a free man. God bless all of you.

Posted by: a former european at February 18, 2005 03:36 PM

DANG, AFE!

FWIW---It would be such a mistake if you didn't see to it that was sent to the editor----of MANY o' newspaper. I hope some other bloggers haul it over to their sites, too.

I ain't tryin' to flatter you. I'm ding-dang serious! IMHO it's just too good...too powerful....too poignant....too needed a message in the *wilderness* to withold from the non internet/blogging mainstream and anyone who doesn't visit here!

Posted by: CKCat at February 18, 2005 04:05 PM

Thanks, Kitty. I've never made a secret of my feelings on this issue. While I'm not one for self-promotion, you or anyone else can feel free to use this post or send it on as you wish. I always consider my posts as thrown out into the public domain.

Posted by: a former european at February 18, 2005 04:15 PM

What a great idea, I'll do it right now. This instant. Straight away, no doddling, just gonna go do it without delay.

Yep, right now.

Wonder if I have any pics of hot chicks that would be appropriate to go with it?

Posted by: Pile On® at February 18, 2005 04:25 PM

AFE,

Since it's the CONTENT of what you said, I don't see your passing it along as "self promotion".

IOW--it would be kinda *selfish* to not make it available to others for fear of self promotion. (~;) Sheesh!

I can kinda understand though. When I lived in Tulsa an artist at the church who's husband is a keyboardist/singer asked me why I didn't sing more often. I told her pretty much the same as you about "self promotion.". She found it interesting that the "singer wanna-bes" [for lack of a better term] never hesitated to book themselves to sing alot.

Well, when I think of the worthless, undermining spew that the spewers never hesitate to promote----all the more reason your *voice* of reason, gratitude and optimism stand out from the cacophony of malcontent commies!

If you wanna be a fathead about it, fine. I know I can't change your mind, but............(~;)

Posted by: CKCat at February 18, 2005 04:49 PM

Pile On,

I think a picture of me would be the perfect accompanying photograph for a former european's mighty statement.

Posted by: J-Lo's Butt at February 18, 2005 04:55 PM

Better yet.

Great post, afe. This country is better a place when you love it back. Glad you're here.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 18, 2005 05:48 PM

Rats. My link's been censored.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 18, 2005 06:00 PM

Great stuff afe! Trust me when I tell you that there are plenty of natural born Americans that believe and feel the same way you do. They're called the silent majority and it would be nice if they weren't so silent!

You make a good point about Marines Cass. They are as varied as the society we live in. The only thing that can be said where they are alike is in their patriotism, honor, devotion to duty, and ability as warfighters. Other than that they are as varied as there are grains of sand.

Most of y'all have tolerated my proud dad bragging on my son and his Company. I've even told you how tough a beginning he was dealt and what's he overcome to become a Marine. Pardon me while I continue in that vein! There is always a common reaction when people meet him out of uniform. You hear comments like "HE'S a Marine?" "He's too nice to be a Marine" "He doesn't LOOK like a Marine" or "He's too quiet to be a Marine. I thought Marines liked to kick butt and take names" On and on and on. Actually, he's fairly typical of the Marines I've known and his brother Marines that I know now. Get them in a pile and they'll bust the traces but only amongst themselves. You will probably have a hard time finding anyone that is as respectful of others in public.

The press in the Nam era created this vision of a Rambo type of person willing to kill babies and eat live hearts. Marines are not anything like that until they are threatened or someone close to them is threatened. Then, and only then, can you come close to actually believing some of the old myths. As a warfighter they are second to none and not one that will hesitate when action is called for. And yes, they have a thirst for battle and find some twisted sense of humor in warfighting. It's called human nature!

Yeah, they've got their quirks. Their language is rough most of the time although you will always see them display proper manners around the people that should be the target of respect. They will sacrifice themselves in battle to save a woman or child. They will annihilate an enemy in a town with prejudice and turn around and rebuild that same town with a smile. They take more crap, put up with more garbage, and never fail to face it all like a Marine. They are GOOD and they fight evil!

Yeah, Da Grunt is nothing if not typical of Marines. A nice guy that is respectful at all times. What his sister calls her "teddy bear". The young man stands tall and proud. He will look you dead in the eye and shake your hand. If you have the self-confidence to look into those eyes you will actually see a great deal of strength and humor behind them. Marines always have a subtle little smile waiting at the corners of their mouths. They're warfighters and actually enjoy life. They know what death means so they enjoy life to it's fullest. Yeah, they're good young men and women. And they're nice too! Rough around the edges maybe but then they stand in harm's way so we don't have to. And all that entails!! :-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at February 18, 2005 07:22 PM

OoRah! JHD

Posted by: Masked Menace© at February 18, 2005 07:34 PM

I have to second Cass's insights and slightly disagree with afe. (Sorry, dude.) Although I heartily agree that the same dichotomy appears within the American people, nowhere is it as pronounced as it is within the Marines. What causes it? My personal belief is that boot camp, OCS, and the USNA cause it, but far from entirely, because they are building on the 200+ years (okay, okay, 229 years) of Marine Corps history. My viewpoint is from one who has seen both the pre-volunteer army and the post-volunteer army, and this phenomenom is (was) present in both. Me, I never would have joined the Marines if it hadn't been for the draft. (I enlisted in the Marines when I dropped out of college to have some choice but still avoid the draft.) But my son had no such motivation or obligation except for his feeling that he owed this country some of his time (he's a Captain, one each, USMC now). The dichotomy that Cass describes is present in both of us.

So where does this common bond come from? Having been through PI and OCS, and his having been through the USNA, I have to believe that the "baisc" training performs some indelibel magic on the soul, but that it has to be accompanied by a love of country and Corps that is partly learned and partly absorbed. Although the other services have people who have the same dedication, the other services just don't come close to the esprit de corps that the Marines have.

Enough analysis for now. For the fun side of life, go back to Scott Ott. Semper fi, Cass.

Posted by: Rex at February 18, 2005 07:34 PM

No, your link's been fixed.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 18, 2005 07:57 PM

Bless you Cassandra darlin.

Posted by: Pile On® at February 18, 2005 08:05 PM

afe-
That was beautiful. Truly beautiful.

I am a natural born citizen, and I also get choked up when I see our military color guards marching in parades. Certain songs bring tears to my eyes- every time. I cried right along with the Iraqi's on election day, knowing how much the US and Iraqi people did to make that day happen, and knowing what a true democracy could mean for them.

Great post Cass. Great post afe.

Posted by: AFSister at February 18, 2005 08:05 PM

Thanks for fixing the link, Cass.
As an inclusive, and democratic society, the true beauty of this nation should be celebrated, and appreciated, by all its members. Give something back, America.

Posted by: spd rdr at February 18, 2005 08:24 PM

Though an Air Force vet myowndamnself, I've come to know,admire and even love the "former Marines" I've worked with......mechs and drivers both.They truly see life through a different lens.The drivers are the most humble pilots God put on the planet.Fighter jocks have egos that fit comfortably in most buildings(the size of the Astrodome),but Marine pilots are just 'different'.Maybe it's the basic school, I don't know.The mechs are no more or less competent than the other branches', but the attitude is decidedly more upbeat.Maybe it's the closeness of being part of such a small service, or the loyalty they feel.We always get cake on the USMC B'Day, courtesy of the Corps.

Or,maybe, it's one of those things that defy pigeon-holing into definition.They are what they are.


Greg

Posted by: Greg at February 18, 2005 08:24 PM

Don't even start on me....

Posted by: spd rdr at February 18, 2005 08:25 PM

What "members" were you talking about spd?

Greg

btw, that was supposed to be read in Beavis voice.

Posted by: Greg at February 18, 2005 08:35 PM

**==

Greg

Posted by: Greg at February 18, 2005 10:00 PM

I don't know. I'm obviously not a Marine.

I think both Marine Corps training and the leadership instill a sense of community and mutual obligation that is not common in broader society anymore. The fact that it's a smaller service makes this ethos easier to maintain; in a smaller service where your reputation definitely precedes you everywhere you go, it's easy to see that everything you do affects others, and that makes it a bit easier for people for follow rules voluntarily and give that extra effort.

On the distaff side of the house, I've seen an enormous difference between the way we at least try to support our families (we're hardly perfect). There are two kinds of commands; FMF tours you tend to be closer anyway because of deployments and whatnot. But even in B billets, I always tried to give the wives a sense that we still existed as a family. I didn't care if they showed up at only one event a year if that was all they had time for; I just wanted them to feel welcomed. And when they went to the commissary or exchange to the Ball in November, I didn't want them walking into the room and seeing a sea of unfamiliar faces. So I always talked up the idea of making a little extra effort to get together every now and then even though obviously family and God and jobs and other things may be more important.
Because also, if something goes wrong, they should feel there is another Marine wife they can call on: they are never alone.

And that's another thing. Ironically, one of the biggest problems I've had has been when one of our families is going through hard times. Sometimes our wives go into overdrive and want to do too much! And you have to remind them (gently) that the family may have resources of their own, or may need privacy, or may just be in shock and not know what they need yet. And for some things, time is the only balm that will heal.

But I'd rather have it that way than to have indifference and apathy.

I think my husband summed it up best once (ironically, when we were stationed at the Academy): Marines tend to be team players. I think that's what the training instills in them: a sense that, together, they can accomplish far more than individuals ever can working alone. Marines are cocky; they have a complete faith in their individual abilities that is earned through challenging and overcoming obstacles. But they don't see themselves as the be-all and end-all: they place their talents in service to something larger than themselves.

And in a society that worships (too much, I sometimes think) the individual, that can be a beautiful thing to see in action.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 19, 2005 07:35 AM

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