I fell in love with another Marine the other day.
I was going through a questionnaire with him
and his answers made me ask the question.
“Were you ever in the military sir?”
His gruff reply: “United States Marine Corps. China 1939.”
Our conversation just got better from there.
I noticed the uncompromising way he answered questions that was
polite and eloquent but unyielding.
“I’m not eating any gravy food. Just so you know.”
He reminded me of my father and yet even better.
There was one question we took a bet on and low and behold he won.
“We need to weigh you.”
“I weigh 148 lbs.”
“Was that before or after not eating the gravy food in the hospital?”
He looked sheepish as if I had caught him at something.
I thought sure I had won a little bit.
We went to weigh him.
He looks at me and grins, victorious.
I smile and concede the bet.
I told him I would help him shave before I left because no Marine would wear a beard like that.
He felt it thoughtfully and considered what I had said.
On the way back to his room his son that had witnessed my interview stopped me.
” I have to say that he seems to take to you. Where we were before there were, well, a few problems with him getting cantankerous, but with you he seems fine.”
I carefully replied that I kind of knew his type, growing up with my own father being a Marine.
“They aren’t often understood and for whatever reason, some never adapt well to civilian life.”
As I approached his room I could hear the electric shaver.
We carefully negotiated a few things and he paid me the best compliment I know.
“I believe you and I will get along just fine.”
I couldn’t go to sleep that night just thinking about him and knowing he
would be coming across people that didn’t understand him, that would try to
push him around and take things too far. I knew they wouldn’t understand.
Although I had tried to express my thoughts to his other caregivers they fell on deaf ears.
I’m still amazed that the world doesn’t plainly see the value and the tenacity of an old Marine.
What I admire the most and long for is the ability like no other of a Marine to never give up. They
will not quit. Sometimes they find different ways to go about things, and many times they carry a heavy burden.
No civilian will ever understand what it takes on a daily basis for a Marine to tolerate society in general.
They see weakness and complaining where there should be silent diligence.
They find few that meet their standards in honor, courage, and commitment and yet they would teach it to anyone if only one would ask.
Marines trudge on in life even though they would have rather stayed in the consistent and strategic life of the USMC.
They often barely tolerate their loved ones’ imperfections and are hard to live with but they would also die for them without hesitation.
Their perspective is limited at times but they are often intelligent. Marines accept nothing less than your 100% and would really prefer at least 110% effort.
The lesson to keep going even when the going gets tough has been lost on our current generation.
Instant gratification and all of the marketing to make things easier in life has taken over.
Nothing is supposed to be hard anymore.
We expect things to be handed to us and then thanked for taking them.
We want and we get.
There is no waiting patiently or striving to do better.
As a society we have given into our children, left our morals behind, and now we sheepishly face the future wondering what our fate will be.
No wonder Marines can’t tolerate us.
What we could learn from the old school Marines is so simple and yet increasingly hard to find is:
* Only lie to the enemy, no one else.
* Attention to detail and time is always important.
* Do it right the first time. Never be lazy.
* Follow through
* Do the right thing even if it won’t benefit you.
* Don’t tolerate drama. Just the facts will do.
* Raise your kids with values.
* Appreciate a good story
* Don’t be a candyass.
* Be a gentleman first, then a soldier if you have to.
* Always assess the situation first then go in.
I looked at this man who was 90. He was fading and yet I still saw the sparkle of the Marine that went to China all those years ago. He’s never had to make excuses or apologies for his life. He just trudges on.
*Update February 2015 RIP USMC PW.