The Halls of Montezuma
For long time readers, this will not be a surprise. For those new or just wandering by, prepare yourselves. I am a Marine. It was on July 7th of 1989 that I graduated boot camp and officially earned that title. Aside from the day I was born, there are two other days that mean quite a bit to me. We won’t go into my first birthday and I just mentioned the boot camp graduation date. The next is my Marine Corps birthday. Back in 1775 the Marines became a fighting force. The official day of this birth is November 10th. This year, my brothers, my sisters, and I will be 242 years old.
It’s funny to me, the people who don’t understand the significance of any of this. They give you an odd look when they know the day and year you were born, but you talk about your other birthday. And then they hear the age and they get the look of “hey, that’s great…” But for those of us who put in the time and went through the hell, there are layers and layers of meaning and tradition.
There are so many things we can and do forget about our lives and the world around us. But it is the unifying moment of a shared piece of cake, whether in the barracks or in a fighting hole. We have those times where we have gone through all manner of hell together and we know by the shared name of Marine, that there is someone else out there that understands.
There are stories I tell, once not always fit for normal company but you get a few beers in me and sometimes they find their way out. Many of these stories can make you laugh or make you blush, from times in different lands and even times right here near home. But for most people, that’s all they are. But for my brothers and sisters, there is something more in there. They know the places I have been. They have met the people I have met.
Yeah, I graduated boot camp on July 7th. You wouldn’t think it possible but the 4th was so close to graduation that we actually got a day off in boot camp. Well as much as you might be able to consider it a day off. We watched some war movies in the squad bay. Perfect rows of soon to be Marines doing weapon maintenance while watching some war movie that I can’t even remember the name of it anymore. But I can remember the details of that day. They have stayed with me all this time.
See the most important detail of that day was it was our senior drill instructor’s last duty day with us before we graduated. After lights out, he spent some time walking through the squad bay talking to us. You could think of it as the equivalent to dad telling us a bed time story. But the man, walking up and down the aisles of racks spoke at length from his favorite strategy book.
Yeah, I don’t remember any of it but one line. “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” But that wasn’t all that was happening. Our squad bay was on the third floor of the barracks building and the windows faced out toward the airport and the San Diego bay. As Staff Sergeant Mince strolled through the squad bay having his final words to us before we left his care, fireworks were flying over the bay.
It was the most powerful Independence Day I have ever experienced.
So yeah, I don’t know if this was the message I was intending for today. But there it is. We have these moments in time that stay with us, locked in our memories. No matter how much we try to drown out the good, the bad, and the ugly, these memories carry on as a part of us we can never lose. For those I can call brother and sister, Happy Birthday Teufel Hunden.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.