NOVEMBER 10: MARINE CORPS BIRTHDAY
NOVEMBER 11: VETERAN’S DAY
“I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite. Not to tell stories or look at old pictures. Not to laugh or weep. Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who once acted their best, men who suffered and sacrificed, who were stripped raw, right down to their humanity. I did not pick these men.
They were delivered by fate. But I know them in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were willing to guard something more precious than my life.
They would have carried my reputation, the memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for one another. I cannot say where we are headed. Ours are not perfect friendships; those are the province of legend and myth. A few of my comrades drift far from me now, sending back only occasional word.
I know that one day even these could fall to silence. Some of the men will stay close, a couple, perhaps, always at hand. As long as I have memory, I will think of them all, every day. I am sure that when I leave this world, my last thought will be of my family and my comrades.
…such good men.”
–Michael Norman, USMC, Vietnam War ‘These Good Men’
When someone thanks me for my service, it seems that I can never muster an adequate reply. My mind goes a hundred different directions to a thousand different places and men. Real men, the kind there never seems to be enough of when real trouble comes knocking and your back is against the wall.
Of all the many blessings that I have had bestowed upon me, knowing such men is surely one of the greatest. They have befriended me, mentored me and yes, at times ridiculed me to push through the self-imposed limits of body and mind. I thank God for each and every one of them.
Many were fellow Marines. I enlisted when only seventeen, in search of a place to belong and involved in a purpose that mattered. They gave me that and so much more.
They made me into a man, and the lessons of life I learned in that constantly challenging environment have stayed with me throughout my life, serving me ably and well.
Thank me for my service? I do sincerely appreciate those words, but in reality I left the Marine Corps with far more than I ever had to put into it.
Because of such men.
Yes, such good men…
A Blessed Day to my fellow veterans, and fellow Marines.
Ben H. English