Sunday, November 10, 2013

Happy 238th Birthday, U.S. Marine Corps

This is the United States Marine Corps War Memorial adjacent to Arlington, Virginia, National Cemetery as it appears at night in a photograph by Catie Drew. I was there once, while I was in the Marines, not at night, but on a sunny Sunday. I had traveled north, coming from a base at Quantico, Virginia, for a weekend in Washington, D.C. I would hope this site is a special place -- even a sacred place -- for every American and not just for Marines. A walk through the national cemetery and a visit to the Tomb of the Unknowns create an emotional awakening which is difficult to describe -- so, I will not even try. Today -- November 10 -- is the 238th birthday of the Marine Corps. Monday -- November 11 -- is Veterans Day in the U.S. Once called Armistice Day by Americans and still referred to by that name or as Remembrance Day in many other nations, it marks the end to World War I. Originally, the day was meant to pay homage to veterans of the "war to end all wars," but later was revamped to include veterans of all wars. Few people observe Veterans Day and fewer still realize today is the USMC birthday. If you are reading this, now you know and I hope you will devote a minute or two to dwell upon the significance of each. I looked at probably fifteen videos trying to find one that fit this post. I found nothing that took hold of me, but I settled on this one which briefly shows a ceremony at the American cemetery at Belleau Wood in France. It seemed to be symbolic of the Corps because it was Marines who stopped German forces advancing on Paris in their tracks there in 1918 and because it was a World War I battle and, therefore, linked to the origins of Veterans Day .... sort of a salute to the memory of both events, which are among those which shaped the world we live in today.


Kelly J. Call said...

It really is a beautiful monument and you are one of the best of the best :-). Semper Fi, Devil Dog! Happy Memorial Day! Hugs and kisses :-)

Fram Actual said...

If there ever were a more perfect photograph and a more perfect monument, I would like someone to tell me, to show me, to explain to me where they are, Kelly. The figures are more ideal than any classical Greek statue, more expressive than any work by DaVinci or Michelangelo. This probably, in my mind, is because the instant of creation was real: The men were alive (are alive, still, for some of us) and the moment was actual. I could write a dozen more paragraphs, but the words might only mean something to those who have lived them and who have experienced them from one generation to the next.

As for the term, "Devil Dogs," whether the German soldiers actually used it in reference to the Marines or it was a journalistic invention by American newspapers is a question that probably cannot be answered. The point being only fools or publicity seekers argue the question because wherever you go, there always is a poodle or a Maltese or a Labrador in the mix, but when the shooting starts, most Marines truly are "hounds from hell." Sometimes, you might also find a wolf or two. Decipher that, if you are able.

ANITA said...

This was a nice post Fram.Most of us dont think about the 1 world war..or even are not interested what happened in the past..The fist part of the video for me i found very interesting since we have read to an exam about the war.Yesteday we remembered the Night of Broken Glass or..Kristallnacht --So yes the history before quite interesting to understand what did come out of the first world war..also what started it...Thanx for this Fram.And grateful that someone like you post this stuff.Greetings Norway!

Gert Jan Hermus said...

You're right. We must not forget this part of our history. Not only in the U.S., but also here in Europe.
We try to teach our children (they are nine and eleven years old) about this hirstory. We have our own memorial here in the Netherlands. On this day we remember our fallen soldiers and civilian victims of the Great Wars. Our children realize that they are 'the future'. And that they can ensure that these terrible things don't ever happen again...;-)

Many greetings from the Netherlands,

Fram Actual said...

One thing there is no shortage of in the U.S. is old men who have been soldiers and seen war first-hand, so it was not difficult for a curious boy like I was to learn about these things both from books and from people who had experienced war. I even own a bottle of wine which was supposed to be drunk by the last surviving World War I veteran in my home town. For whatever reason, he did not drink it, and it was passed on to me as one of his descendants.

I have been a student of wars and warriors since I was a child, Anita. I am not sure why, but these things fascinate me, and I think there probably is no better way to learn about human behavior and human nature than by being a student of war. I am glad to see you, too, are a student in this sense.

Fram Actual said...

There is a member of my extended family who is buried in a World War II American military cemetery somewhere in the Netherlands. He was the son of one of my grandmother's sisters. I am curious now, and I will contact someone in that branch of the family to find out the location of the cemetery. His name was Darrel Anderson. He survived the D-Day landing at Normandy, but his luck did not last.

With the turmoil your country experienced during the world wars, Gert Jan, it probably is even more important for the children of Europe to learn their nation's wartime history than it is for American children to know their own. It is good when parents remember their national history and even better when they teach it to their children. I congratulate you.

Gert Jan Hermus said...

All American soldiers who died in the Second World War in the Netherlands, are buried in the cemetery of Margraten. Maybe you can find some information here:

Fram Actual said...

It would seem I have created a bit of a mystery here, Gert Jan. I was careless in that I spelled his first name based on memory, which, in this case, was faulty:

Darrold, not Darrel.

Darrold L. Anderson was his name, but I can find no military burial record under that name. He was before my time and not in my immediate family, so I never knew any details. The story I recall was that he was killed during the final days of the war in "Holland" and buried there. He does have a brother still living. I will email him and try to learn more about the story and let you know.

I have been to American and German cemeteries in Normandy, and have others I would like to visit in Europe. I guess if I wish to visit the grave of my relative, some research is needed. Thank you, for "waking me up" to this situation, Gert Jan.

Gert Jan Hermus said...

Well, maybe you can get in contact with this organization. And maybe they can help you out. If I can do anything, just let me know! ;-)

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, Gert Jan. He has two brothers who still walk the earth, and I sent an email to one of them. He is a banker who was born about the time the eldest brother went to war. I would hope he has the answer, but, if he does not, my own curiosity will push me a bit further.

This all happened before my time, so I suppose it is possible the body was brought home after the war and I simply was not aware of it. It is rare I see any members of this branch of the family since everyone when their own ways decades ago.

Anyway, thanks again. We shall see where this leads.

Fram Actual said...

The mystery has been solved.

The brother of our "missing soldier" has written to me and reported that there was "an opportunity" to have the body returned to the U.S. after the war, sometime around 1948. The brother was just a small child himself at the time, and wrote that he "can remember the funeral a little bit." In any case, the soldier's body was disinterred from the military cemetery in Holland and he now rests next to his parents in a small-town cemetery in Minnesota.

I will have to try to find the gravesite the next time I pass through that way. I have one set of great-grandparents buried in that same cemetery, and other relatives as well, so I stop there at times.

Smareis said...

Oi Fram,

Lindo esse monumento, uma obra de arte.

A noite deve ter uma visão interessante. Usaram muita criatividade nessa construção.
Gostei muito do vídeo. muito bonita essa cerimônia no cemitério americano em Belleau na França. Merecida!

Deixo um abraço e desejo de continuação de uma excente semana.

Fram Actual said...

This is an instance of life transformed into art, rather than art portraying life, Smareis.

Six figures, six men, frozen in time as the shutter of a camera opened and closed. The scene also was captured by a motion picture camera, and is much less dramatic in that form, from my point of view. In fact, the act looks sort of ordinary as it moves along for a few seconds in motion picture format. In still life, all aspects of these men -- the creases in their uniforms, their outstretched and gripping hands, the angles of their helmets -- become elements to be studied and to be interpreted. I hope there are others who, like me, see the faces, hear the voices and sense the once-beating hearts of these six men.

I could write and write and write about this monument and my emotions and feelings and interpretations of it, and about the individuals involved, but, instead, I will say thank you, Smareis, for your presence and your words and your wishes.

A Cuban In London said...

I love the lighting. It renders the monument magical. Many thanks, I was unaware of the history behind it.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

I have been trying to imagine what it would be like to visit the monument in the evening, CiL, both on a snowy, winter night with wind howling and in the darkness of a hot, humid, summer night. I think it might be a bit frightening during winter, and leave the visitor with sort of a haunted feeling. No doubt, I would prefer a calm, warm night. Maybe, someday .... I would like to stand beside the memorial again someday.

I am glad you stopped by and left your thoughts, CiL, and I am pleased you gained a measure of U.S. military history through your visit here.

Something special ....