“Always faithful”…” Those, as you no doubt know, are the watchwords – the promise and the reality – of the United States Marine Corps. I was lucky enough to attend the Corps’ 243rdbirthday celebration in New York, thanks to a dear friend, a much-decorated retired colonel and fighter attack pilot in World War II and the Korean War.
Appropriately, the celebration was held aboard The Intrepid, the famous aircraft carrier that’s docked in the Hudson River and is renowned for its extraordinary service in World War II.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps arrived at the dinner from Washington, D.C., to cut the birthday cake and handed the first piece to my friend as the oldest Marine present and the second piece to the youngest Marine present.
To say I was knocked out by the entire evening is a gross understatement. It was unforgettable. Not only was it unforgettable, but I realized I would leave the event differently from the way I arrived…I was right.
To be living in a time of extreme pessimism, cynicism and a “You think this is bad, wait…!” attitude shoots holes through the intrepid “American Dream” (that anything is possible if we stand and work together) that we’ve believed in ever since most us were little kids.
But my evening on The Intrepid with my friend changed all that…
Standing on the ship, watching the exuberance, feeling the energy, being knocked out by the warmth and optimism of a roomful of Marines of all ages who truly were a “band of brothers” who said, “Sir!” as they saluted and hugged, who were fully there for each other and always would be…was nothing short of glorious.
My friend, at age 98, was the oldest of the Intrepid contingent and I’m told he’s as committed and passionate about continuing to make a difference as he ever was. (And I have no doubt that’s true.) I believe he’s among the revered officers in the Corps today and, not surprisingly, he was barraged by multitudes of well-wishers. I felt like a celebrity just being with him.
But I felt something more. I felt hope. And optimism. And an abiding faith in our country.
I felt pride.