Friday, January 24, 2020
Once upon a time never comes again
The United States Marine Corps War Memorial is dedicated in remembrance of Marine dead of all wars and their comrades of other services who fell fighting beside them. It was unveiled in 1954 on the birthday of the Corps -- November 10 -- and is located in Arlington Ridge Park adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery. As a nineteen-year-old Marine, I took the train from Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, to Washington, D.C. A few of us walked and ran from the station to the monument, including across the nearly half-mile long Arlington Memorial Bridge which spans the Potomac River. Later on the same trip, three of us raced the 898 steps to the top of the Washington Monument .... it occurs to me we were all a bit crazy in those days and it is my understanding the steps are now closed to the public.
Semper Fidelis, baby ....
Once upon a time never comes again is true for individuals, but it can come again and again and again for organizations and, in a way, for families. I look backward in time to my ancestors and think about them .... I look forward in time to my descendants and wonder about them. The past is foggy, at best, and the future is "whatever will be, will be -- que sera, sera."
There never will be another January 24 in which I meet a Marine Corps captain and a gunnery sergeant in a hotel room, sign on the dotted line to enlist in the Corps and take the oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me ...." I was eighteen .... a few months out of high school .... hungry for adventure.
Thousands took that oath before me and thousands will tomorrow and tomorrow and the days after tomorrow, creating an ongoing bond of "for now permanency."
In all probability, the Marine Corps will drift into obscurity at some future time and no doubt fade from living memory, but having been a Marine provides a "sort of lastingness" in a world where even the planet will disappear eventually and offers a legacy and traditions to grip firmly and to hold dearly.
By the way, the hotel where I met the captain and the gunnery sergeant is long since torn down ....
Who was it who first said, "the price of life is death ...."
Yep .... but, in the meanwhile .... semper fi, baby ....