By David McArthur, USMC
Before September of 2008 I only celebrated one birthday a year that really meant a lot to me. And that was my own. I went to boot camp from September through November. Even then, while eating the cheap steak dinner at MCRD San Diego; I had no idea what the big deal was on November 10th.
I didn’t even give it a thought. November 10th, was the birth of the Marine Corps. I would soon fall in love with this job – being a Marine – the job that myself and so many others would give up so much of our lives for. I didn’t know how much this day would come to mean to me and how much I would grow to respect the values and traditions of the Corps.
I was medically retired from the Marines on January 31st of 2012. So this will be the first birthday that I’ll be celebrating since being on active duty. My last two celebrations have been in a hospital. Even while in the hospital I found a way to get my hair cut, my face trimmed, and my clothes pressed neatly. No matter where I will be on November 10th, I will always wish a happy birthday to myself and all those who have earned the title of U.S. Marine.
People who haven’t been through boot camp or have never had to make the sacrifices that Marines do, will never understand why we hold this day so close to our hearts. I try not to dwell on the friends that I have lost, or how my life has been forever changed. But on the 10th of November, I not only give a toast to the corps but to everyone who has given their life, and to those who have deployed, because their lives will never be the same.
I plan on attending birthday balls every year no matter where it may be. This year it will be with my Marine Corps League Detachment in St Louis. If you’ve never been to a detachment’s ball and haven’t looked into the eyes of all the vets there ranging from WWII to present, then you’re missing out on how much the Corps means to vets, and how they’re still true to the values and traditions.
Once a Marine Always A Marine; Semper Fidelis; Espirit De Corps! These are the mottos we live by now. Our appearance is not that of a Marine anymore but our heart and soul will forever be that of a Hard Charger. We are all Marines and November 10th is the one day of the year where we can put our uniforms and medals back on and show that pride that we all still hold true.
So on this November 10th, 2012, no matter where you are, do not forget those who have given so much before you, during your service, and those who are over in theatre right now doing what they do best. Be a Marine, show your spirit. Let your guard down and spend time with loved ones. Because Marines have two birthdays and no one in the world can ever take that away from us!
Semper Fi, be safe, and…
Happy Birthday Marines!!!!