As I sit here on the day before the birthday of my beloved Marine Corps, and two days before Veteran's Day, I am wondering what on earth can I possibly write about this year? Our Greatest Generation continues to slowly pass into history, the work that they did to save America and the world from the horrors of Nazism/Fascism, and the unfinished war in Korea and the blood that they shed to keep the South free, all seem like a story that someone has written. A terrible fiction that could not have happened. After all, how could anyone throw themselves directly into the mouth of hell, certain death all around them, their friends being blown to bits: and yet,somehow, they managed to prevail and take down Fortress Europe and defeat the Axis there. The forces in the Pacific sacrificed themselves on island after island, from Guadalcanal, through Iwo Jima, to Okinawa, they threw themselves at an entrenched enemy force who's soul purpose was to enslave the people of Asia and the Pacific Islands and, ultimately, Hawaii and the United States. Finally, the brave pilots and crews of the Enola Gay and Bockscar, dropped the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to finally end the war. President Truman will always be remembered as the man who ended the war through the use of nuclear bombs, but it was these brave men who actually flew the missions.
These same men, the survivors of the two great theaters of war, came home and started to get the country moving again, off of the war footing that it had been on, and back to the peacetime business of running the manufacturing plants and thousands of other businesses and raising their families. Disrupted by the war in Korea, thousands more answered the call to stop the spread of communism to the sout3h of the Korean peninsula. Many more Americans and allied forces lost their lives there. They fought the forces of North Korea and the Communist Chinese to a standstill at the 38th Parallel, where both sides signed a cease fire which remains in place today, almost 60 years later.
These were brave men and women, many who made the ultimate sacrifice for the continued liberty of the free world. We may never see their like again, and it makes me very sad to watch them fade away. On Veterans Day of every year, I salute them. On a daily basis, I remember them and thank them for all that they have given me and every other person across the globe who are able to enjoy the freedom that they defended. Without them, there would be no United States. Without them, there would be no elections, no freedom to express your thoughts and not be sent to some remote prison. Without them, there would be no me. Thank you, Dad, for your bravery in volunteering, no, insisting that you be sent to the European theater to help end the war, when you could have stayed safe in the Canal Zone. Thank you, Uncle Harold, for risking your life, over and over and over again, island hopping in the Pacific, climbing Mount Suribachi and watching that flag raising, then fighting that horrible, bloody battle to secure that island. Thank you, Chesty Puller for being such a beloved leader of men that your Marines would have followed you to hell and back.
In the Vietnam War, the children of these brave souls were called to fight a different kind of war in the jungles of Vietnam. It doesn't matter if you think that the war was right or wrong, moral or not. That is for the scholars, men and women much smarter than I, to decide through hindsight. The fact remains that so many served, some voluntarily, some through the draft.. but they served; and so many died or were maimed. Some suffer to this day from the things that they were exposed to during that war. I served, and I am proud that I did. Given the ability to foresee the ultimate outcome, I would not change a thing that I did. I was raised to believe that we owe a service to the American People for the privilege of living relatively free. We did our duty, and we are all proud of our service.
After the Vietnam war, things did not change much, except that the draft was finally ended. We still had men and women volunteering to serve. We still had men and women being killed on foreign soil. The Marine Barracks in Lebanon, Granada, Panama. The '90s saw our brave volunteers fighting the first Gulf War to secure the freedom of Kuwait from the criminal dictator, Saddam Hussein. After the attack on the World Trade Center. Our troops saw action in the civil war that divided the former Yugoslavia, and went in to stop the genocide of Muslims by the Serb dictator Milosevich. We saw the slaughter of the brave Delta force soldiers and the crew of the helicopter by Somalian forces. The result, 17 dead and 73 wounded from the US.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the United States and it's allies entered into two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. The brave military personell from the US are all volunteer now. These wars have maimed and killed thousands of young men and women, yet they continue to volunteer.
I want to thank each and every service member, living and deceased, active and retired, for their sacrifice and unswerving courage in the face of the enemies of freedom. I salute each and every one of you and thank your for your service. You continue to make me proud to be an American Citizen and Marine Corps Veteran.
To my fellow Marines: You have always made me proud to have served in this unique organization. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARINES and SEMPER FIDELIS!!