Thursday, October 30, 2008

Excerpt from Sgt Grit newsletter

To my military mind, this is a great letter...

When you stop and think about it, "Semper Fidelis" means "Always Faithful"...and it goes way beyond just being faithful to the Corps...the words I remember from my sixteen years there were: "God, country and Corps".

Remember the words of JFK? Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. How different that sounds than what we are hearing, today, from presidential and con-gressional wannabees.

Here is the letter...if you want more, please go to .

Dear Sgt. Grit

Marines seldom lose their composure and are inclined to be rather stoic in general. I include myself in that group, but I need to confess to losing mine twice in the same day.

I work as a deck hand (Combination boatswain's mate and machinist's mate) on some of Chicago's architectural cruise boats during the season, and last weekend we had two of the days you wish you could bottle up and then open again in mid- February. We were sailing nearly full each trip, so we were on the lookout for wheelchairs and how to handle their logistics.

I looked up from tearing tickets, and I spotted a young man seated in wider model. He was missing one leg below the knee and the other above the knee. He had three other guests with him.

The woman who was obviously his mother was wearing a gray USMC sweatshirt. When I tried to get him down our usual rampway, chair was too wide for the ramp, so I had to put in the wider one.

While I was wheeling him down the wide ramp, I asked if he was a Marine. He said: "That's right, 2/3." I said "1/4" and asked him if he was an 0311. He said "Yeah, what's your MOS?" I told him "0302." He wasn't familiar with that one, so I told him I was an infantry officer.

I wheeled his chair up to the place that had the best view, and I noted that he only had a t-shirt on. After we seated all the guests and pulled away from the dock, I got my jacket out of the pilot house and went up to give it to him to wear: after all, it gets chilly out there in the concrete canyons. When I went to hand him my jacket, I realized he was also blind in both eyes.

After I checked on the rest of the guests, I went back to talk to Eric, our bartender. He asked me if I was OK, and I told him about the guy in the wheelchair and how he was younger than my son. Eric was surprised to watch me try to keep from losing it. "Wow" was about all he could offer. What could he say, anyway?

Then we started discussing what a guy like that can do for a living. After the cruise, I helped get the Marine ashore, and he held out my jacket. "Semper Fi", I said: he smiled and said "Oorah."

That's when it hit me. This guy didn't want pity, or even compassion. He was ready with neither eyes nor legs to take on the world again on his own terms. All he wanted was a chance to prove it. What can a guy like that do for a living? Nearly anything he sets his mind to.

Later on, I was again boarding passengers when a neatly dressed lady wearing a small blue-bordered white pin walked up. I was wearing my sunglasses, so the colors weren't too clear. I asked if she had a son in the military.

"Had", she said, "Actually, that's a gold star." Sure enough, along with her gold star pin, she was wearing a tiny Eagle Globe and Anchor. She appeared to be a typical Marine Mom: you know, "Return with your shield or on it." She obviously didn't want anybody to feel sorry for her either. I lost it again.

So where do we get people like this? I think they come from America's very heart and soul. They're everyday Americans who had a job to do and did it to the best of their ability. These Marines, their families, and their friends deserve our good cheer, and our commitment to helping them make it on their own again. Handouts? What for? Pity? Why? So if you're in the position to hire folks for your business, don't forget the Vet. Especially, don't forget wounded Vets like that 2/3 Marine.

Semper FidelisKB

No comments: