Thursday, November 09, 2006

Happy 231st Birthday, Marines!

Last evening, I was privileged to be among the several hundred people who gathered in the majestic Williams Room of Harvard Business School’s Spangler Hall to celebrate the 231st anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corps. It was an inspiring and memorable evening, as Harvard’s military community and their friends were out in force and in style. (The phrase “Harvard military community” is not as oxymoronic as one might imagine!)

The highlight of the evening was the address offered by the guest of honor, Major General Stephen T. Johnson, currently serving as Deputy Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command. Maj. Gen. Johnson and his wife had flown up from Washington for this special event. He shared some thoughts about the Marine Corps’ rich history, heritage and future. He recounted an anecdote that I feel encapsulates much of what makes the Marine Corps’ ethos so unique. I will summarize the point of his story.

Current Marine Corps Commandant, General Michael Hagee, makes it a regular practice to visit wounded Marines who are recuperating at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. During a recent visit, he bumped into singer and actress, Cher, who was also visiting some of the wounded veterans. According to Maj. Gen. Johnson’s account, Cher was conducting her visit in a very low-key and self-effacing way, not as a “publicity stunt,” as some are wont to do. She asked General Hagee if she could accompany him as he pinned a Purple Heart on a wounded Lance Corporal. After the brief ceremony had ended, she went over to congratulate the Marine, and said to him: “This is quite a special day for you. You received the Purple Heart, and you got to meet Cher.” Without hesitation, the Lance Corporal replied, “No, ma’am! With all due respect, I received a Purple Heart, and I got to meet the Commandant!”

As my network of relationships with Marines – those who are on active duty and those who have served in the past - has grown over the years, I have become more and more impressed with the special bond that unites Marines to one another. The “corporate culture” of the Marines, the “esprit de corps,” and the “brand” of what it means to be a Marine has no peer and no parallel in my experience. These men and women are committed to one another in a way that is awe-inspiring. They are indeed, “The Few – The Proud.” And they deserve our gratitude, admiration and respect.

Happy Birthday, my friends!

Semper Fi.


1 comment:

Tim Joyce said...

Thank you Al, glad you could join us as we celebrated our 231st. Semper Fidelis.