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Happy 239th Birthday U.S. Marine Corps

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Today is one of these days where I just want to wish people well. Those men and women are those of the United States Marine Corps, with whom I have have spent almost ten years of my thirty-three year military career assigned to or in support of as a chaplain. Today is the 239th anniversary of the establishment of the Marine Corps and its founding at Tun Tavern, in Philadelphia. Tonight I wish all those who have served past, present and future, especially those who I have served alongside a happy birthday.

On November 10th 1775 the Continental congress passed a resolution that stated:

Resolved, that two Battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors & Officers as usual in other regiments, that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea, when required. That they be enlisted and commissioned for and during the present war with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by Congress. That they be distinguished by the names of the first & second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered a part of the number, which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.

Today is the 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. The history of the Marine Corps is one of the most fascinating of any armed service in the world. Starting out as a tiny force attached to Navy ships and shipyards the Corps has gained prominence as one of the premier fighting forces ever assembled. Flexible and deployable anywhere in the world on short notice the Marine Corps has seen action in “every place and clime” and continues to serve around the world.

In 1775 a committee of the Continental Congress met at Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore.  The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines. The first order of business was to appoint Samuel Nicholas as the Commandant of the newly formed Marines.

Robert Mullan the owner and proprietor of the said Tun Tavern became Nicholson’s first captain and recruiter. They began gathering support and were ready for action by early 1776.  They served throughout the War for Independence and like the Navy they were disbanded in April 1783 and reconstituted as the Marine Corps in 1798.

The Marines served on the ships of the Navy in the Quasi-war with France, against the Barbary Pirates where a small group of 8 Marines and 500 Arabs under Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon made a march of 500 miles across the Libyan Desert to lay siege Tripoli but only reached Derna. The action is immortalized in the Marine Hymn as well as the design of the Marine Officer’s “Mameluke” Sword. They served in the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars and in the Mexican-American War where in the storming of the on Chapultepec Palace they continued to build and enduring legacy. In the months leading up to the Civil War they played a key role at home and abroad.  In October 1859 Colonel Robert E. Lee led Marines from the Marine Barracks Washington DC to capture John Brown and his followers who had captured the Federal Armory at Harper’s Ferry.

The Corps would serve through the Civil War and on into the age of American Expansion serving in the Spanish American War in the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Cuba where they seized Guantanamo Bay at the battle of Cuzco Wells.  The would serve in China and be a key component of the international force that defended foreign diplomats during the Boxer Revolt as well as the international force that would relieve the diplomatic compound in Peking (Beijing).  In World War One the Marines stopped the German advance at Chateau Thierry and cemented their reputation as an elite fighting force at Belleau Wood where legend has it that the Germans nicknamed them Teufelhunden or Devil Dogs, a name that they Marines have appropriated with great aplomb.

During the inter-war years the Marines were quite active in the Caribbean and Asia and also developed amphibious tactics and doctrine that would be put to use in the Pacific Campaign.  During the war the Marines served in all theaters but won enduring fame at Wake Island, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and numerous other battles in the Pacific war. Marine Aviators flew in some the most desperate actions in the war to support the Navy and amphibious operations ashore.

After the war the Truman Administration sought to eliminate the Marine Corps but the Corps was saved by the efforts of Americans across the country and Marine supporters in Congress.  That was a good thing because the Marines were instrumental in keeping the North Koreans from overrunning the South during the Korean War on the Pusan Perimeter, turned the tide at Inchon and helped decimate Communist Chinese forces at the Chosin Reservoir.  After Korea the Marines would serve around the World in the Caribbean and Lebanon and in Vietnam where at Da Nang Keh Sanh, Hue City, Con Thien fighting the North Vietnamese and their Viet Cong allies.  The Marines took the initiative to implement innovative counter insurgency measures such as the Combined Action Platoons which enjoyed tremendous success until they were shut down by the Army high command.  These lessons would serve the Marines well in the new millennium during the Anbar Awakening in Iraq which changed the course of that insurgency and war.

The Marines would again be involved around the World after Vietnam serving in the Cold War, in Lebanon and the First Gulf War which was followed by actions in Somalia, the Balkans and Haiti. After the attacks of September 11th 2001 the Marines were among the first into Afghanistan helping to drive the Taliban from power. In the Iraq Campaign the Marines had a leading role both in the invasion and in the campaign in Al Anbar Province.  After their withdraw from Iraq the Marines became a central player in Afghanistan where until last month they were engaged around Khandahar and in Helmand Province.

The Marines are elite among world military organizations and continue to “fight our nations battles on the air and land and sea.” The Corps under General John LeJeune institutionalized the celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday and their establishment at Tun Tavern. General LeJeune issued this order which is still read at every Marine Corps Birthday Ball or observance:

MARINE CORPS ORDER No. 47 (Series 1921)
HEADQUARTERS
U.S. MARINE CORPS Washington, November 1, 1921

The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.

On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name “Marine”. In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as “Soldiers of the Sea” since the founding of the Corps.

JOHN A. LEJEUNE,
Major General
Commandant

 

 

 

 

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Happy 238th Birthday Marines! The Proud Tradition of the United States Marine Corps Continues

Resolved, that two Battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors & Officers as usual in other regiments, that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea, when required. That they be enlisted and commissioned for and during the present war with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by Congress. That they be distinguished by the names of the first & second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered a part of the number, which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.
—Resolution of the Continental Congress on 10 November 1775

Today is the 238th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. The history of the Marine Corps is one of the most fascinating of any armed service in the world. Starting out as a tiny force attached to Navy ships and shipyards the Corps has gained prominence as one of the premier fighting forces ever assembled. Flexible and deployable anywhere in the world on short notice the Marine Corps has seen action in “every place and clime” and continues to serve around the world be it in battle in Afghanistan or aiding American citizens affected by Hurricane Sandy and the Nor’easter of this week. Marine Corps Reservists always active in their communities touch the lives of needy children through the Toys for Tots program.

The Shores of Tripoli

In 1775 a committee of the Continental Congress met at Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore.  The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines. The first order of business was to appoint Samuel Nicholas as the Commandant of the newly formed Marines. Robert Mullan the owner and proprietor of the said Tun Tavern became Nicholson’s first captain and recruiter. They began gathering support and were ready for action by early 1776.  They served throughout the War for Independence and like the Navy they were disbanded in April 1783 and reconstituted as the Marine Corps in 1798. The served on the ships of the Navy in the Quasi-war with France, against the Barbary Pirates where a small group of 8 Marines and 500 Arabs under Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon made a march of 500 miles across the Libyan Desert to lay siege Tripoli but only reached Derna. The action is immortalized in the Marine Hymn as well as the design of the Marine Officer’s “Mameluke” Sword. They served in the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars and in the Mexican-American War where in the storming of the on Chapultepec Palace they continued to build and enduring legacy. In the months leading up to the Civil War they played a key role at home and abroad.  In October 1859 Colonel Robert E. Lee led Marines from the Marine Barracks Washington DC to capture John Brown and his followers who had captured the Federal Armory at Harper’s Ferry.

Thd Halls of Montezuma 

The Corps would serve through the Civil War and on into the age of American Expansion serving in the Spanish American War in the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Cuba where they seized Guantanamo Bay at the battle of Cuzco Wells.  The would serve in China and be a key component of the international force that defended foreign diplomats during the Boxer Revolt as well as the international force that would relieve the diplomatic compound in Peking (Beijing).  In World War One the Marines stopped the German advance at Chateau Thierry and cemented their reputation as an elite fighting force at Belleau Wood where legend has it that the Germans nicknamed them Teufelhunden or Devil Dogs, a name that they Marines have appropriated with great aplomb.

The Teufelhunden at Belleau Wood 

During the inter-war years the Marines were quite active in the Caribbean and Asia and also developed amphibious tactics and doctrine that would be put to use in the Pacific Campaign.  During the war the Marines served in all theaters but won enduring fame at Wake Island, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and numerous other battles in the Pacific war. Marine Aviators flew in some the most desperate actions in the war to support the Navy and amphibious operations ashore.

Medal of Honor Winner Mitchell Paige at Bloody Ridge, Guadalcanal 

F2A Brewster Buffalo of VMF 221 at the Battle of Midway

After the war the Truman Administration sought to eliminate the Marine Corps but the Corps was saved by the efforts of Americans across the country and Marine supporters in Congress.  That was a good thing because the Marines were instrumental in keeping the North Koreans from overrunning the South during the Korean War on the Pusan Perimeter, turned the tide at Inchon and helped decimate Communist Chinese forces at the Chosin Reservoir.  After Korea the Marines would serve around the World in the Caribbean and Lebanon and in Vietnam where at Da Nang Keh Sanh, Hue City, Con Thien fighting the North Vietnamese and their Viet Cong allies.  The Marines took the initiative to implement innovative counter insurgency measures such as the Combined Action Platoons which enjoyed tremendous success until they were shut down by the Army high command.  These lessons would serve the Marines well in the new millennium during the Anbar Awakening in Iraq which changed the course of that insurgency and war.

The Marines would again be involved around the World after Vietnam serving in the Cold War, in Lebanon and the First Gulf War which was followed by actions in Somalia, the Balkans and Haiti. After the attacks of September 11th 2001 the Marines were among the first into Afghanistan helping to drive the Taliban from power. In the Iraq Campaign the Marines had a leading role both in the invasion and in the campaign in Al Anbar Province.  After their withdraw from Iraq the Marines became a central player in Afghanistan where today they are engaged around Khandahar and in Helmand Province.

The Battle of Hue City

The Marines are elite among world military organizations and continue to “fight our nations battles on the air and land and sea.” The Corps under General John LeJeune institutionalized the celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday and their establishment at Tun Tavern. General LeJeune issued this order which is still read at every Marine Corps Birthday Ball or observance:

MARINE CORPS ORDER No. 47 (Series 1921)
HEADQUARTERS
U.S. MARINE CORPS Washington, November 1, 1921

The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.

On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name “Marine”. In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as “Soldiers of the Sea” since the founding of the Corps.

JOHN A. LEJEUNE,
Major General
Commandant

I have had the privilege of serving with the Marines in peace and war and the most memorable Marine Corps Birthday celebrations for me were in Ramadi with the Marine advisors to the Iraqi 7th Division and with the Marine Security Force Company at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. The highlight of my career was serving with the Marines in Iraq and I wear my Iraq Campaign Medal with pride.  The Marines have helped my professional development as an office through the Amphibious Warfare Course, Command and Staff College and the Fleet Marine Force Officer Qualification. I count my Marines as some of my most enduring friends.

I have provide a link to a great tribute to the Marines, the official Marine Corps Birthday Message for 2013.

http://www.military.com/video/forces/marine-corps/2013-marine-corps-birthday-message/2816787896001/

Happy Birthday Marines. Thank you for all you do.

Semper Fidelis!

Padre Steve+

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Life’s Tough…It’s Tougher When You’re Stupid- The Peril of Misusing Principles, Attributes and Quotations Out of Context

sgt striker

I am cursed with having been born with a logical and analytical mind.  As such it is a cross that I bear.  This may sound pompous and even arrogant but unfortunately it is true.  I am confronted every day with people, some of who that I love and adore who use principles and attributes badly and make themselves look foolish.  Sometimes even bordering on being stupid. Often this involves personal hurts where because of something that was said or done a person makes a quantum leap intol illogical absurdity.  For example, “My boss yelled at me thus my career is over.”  That may or may not be true but it is not a foregone conclusion.  Likewise something like this: “My friend did not call me back, they  must hate me.”   What is worse for hurt people is when they find a quote taken out of context and use it in an illogical manner.  I had a dear friend do this the other day.  I cannot break any confidence but I basically told my friend that if someone was wrong in something they said about my friend that my friend should tell them to go to hell.  I also told my friend that if what the other person was true then that he needed to deal with it and make whatever corrections necessary.

I find that the use of principles and attributes as a lazy way for people to try to look intelligent. A person who uses them in such manner as a way to prove a point neither understand the principles or attributes of what they think that they understand.  If physicians or scientists approached life in that manner we would be in big trouble. Yet we see it all the time in religion, popular philosophy, pop-psychology, popular leadership and management programs.

My friend made a comment on a social networking website regarding assumptions.  It was a bad use of a bad quote, probably taken out of context, unless the person quoted was an idiot, which after reading stuff about him I believe that he is.  The quote was by Don Miguel Ruiz and said: “The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth”   There is a big problem with this.  Good Old Don Mike is an idiot.  Assumptions are how logical people begin the process of discovery through inductive and deductive reasoning.  The problem with Don Mike is that he assumes that people who assume use assumptions in ignorance.  You see Don Miguel is a “spiritual” teacher, and as a spiritual man of course he operates above logic. He lives in the world of unreality and illogic, however it looks like he makes good money doing it.  Guys like this are actually dangerous because they say things that sound neat, but are absolutely idiotic.  Now can we make bad assumptions about ourselves or others? Definitely.  Crap I do it all the time, however that does not lessen the value of making and acting on assumptions.   If the assumption is wrong, you re-assess and move forward.  If someone makes an assumption about you which is wrong you don’t throw out the value of making informed decisions based on evidence and from that evidence making assumptions about how to proceed in the future. This can be in personal, financial, career, spiritual or any other dimension of life.  We all make assumptions about ourselves and others and based on those assumptions live our lives.

Let’s take this quote about assumptions.  Every month that we work we assume that we will get paid.  It is part of the deal. We sign a contract or have a set pay scale and pay days.  In the military we get paid on the 1st and the 15th of the month.  I assume that when I read my pay advisement that that money will be in my bank account on the date the advisement says that it will.  I operate on the assumption that I will be paid.  If I am unemployed and have run out of unemployment benefits this may not be so.  I should make the assumption that unless I get a job that I will not be able to buy my dog Milk Bones.  True, Molly would not be happy about this but I would be a fool to assume that I will have money.  This may happen. I may get a job or someone may help me out but I do not assume this to be the case.

One of the worst ways I see this is with religious people.  Some of my fellow Christians for whatever reason believe that somehow God owes them.  This of course comes from the “name it claim it, grab it stab it, God owes me because” heresy of the prosperity preachers.  Unfortunately this crass, insipid and idiotic “theology” is not based on the assumption that God cares about them.  It is however the presumption that because I did something that God is contractually bound to do it.  It assumes wrongly that the Bible, believe a particular doctrine, give my money to the church or a ministry, or pray a certain way that God is obligated to do things the way that I want.   This is an error of presumption as well as a theological heresy.  It “cherry picks” scripture, something called “proof texting.”  This is simply lifting the part of scripture that we like from its historical, cultural and theological context and arbitrarily determine that it means what we want it to mean. God loves us and cares for us but does not owe anyone anything.  The Deity Herself assures me of this.  The way I see it is that God is no respecter of persons, even me.  Thus, I cannot presume on God.

Moving back to the topic of the misuse of principles and attributes by those who presume to be intelligent or spiritual:  Principles and attributes have to be understood in context in order to be used correctly. Context includes the meaning of the writer or the person quoted. The context matters if we are to correctly interpret principles of life made by any individual.  The Enlightenment Philosophers and Theologians called is the “situation in life, or Sitz im Leben. Things do not occur in a vacuum and how people arrive at their conclusions is as much a part of their environment and experience as the end product.

We see this in a number of ways.  I love reading amateur historians, political or military pundits do this with the great military thinkers. I particularly get a kick out of people who quote Sun Tzu or Clausewitz out of context to make some point.  I see this often.  You can go to any bookstore and pick up a book of quotes or principles derived from some philosopher, theologian, military, business or political leader.  They are usually entitled something like this: The Leadership Principles of __________. On occasion you might find a book of quotes, again usually out of context called ____________ Rules for Success in Life. Abe Lincoln and Winston Churchill are two of the most quoted in this manner. People love to do this with quotes of Jesus taken from the Gospels, of course who would argue with God incarnate.  The problem is that the quotes are usually taken out of context and not congruent with the basics of the Christian faith.  Even Scripture is abused in this manner.  This is not assumption, it is presumption.

I remember a book entitled The Attributes of God which I read back in college.  The problem with the book, from a Christian perspective, and the author was a Christian; was not that it’s assumptions about certain characteristics or attributes of God was wrong, it was the fact that God was approached through attributes rather than from the Cross.  One does not know God simply through studying his attributes.  If you are a Christian you know God through Christ who you know through the Cross, not just sayings of Jesus taken out of context.  A person is not the sum of their attributes.

The same is true with those who quote various philosophers, theologians, political or military leaders out of context.  People love to do this with Sun Tzu and Clausewitz.  I have lost count of the books I have seen published in recent years that do this.  To understand Clausewitz one has to understand the Enlightenment, Classic German Liberalism including the Philosophy of Kant, Hegel and Kierkegaard as well as the theology of theologians such as Scheilermacher.  Clausewitz properly understood is more than a political-military philosopher but a man who understands the human condition.  To reduce his work to cool quotes is to miss the point.  Since most people can’t spell or correctly pronounce “Scheilermacher” I am sure that they have not read him.  Same is true with Kant, Hegel and Kiekegaard. Without understanding this or Prussia’s defeat and and occupation by Napoleon’s Army and the subsequent recovery, one does not understand Clausewitz.  Clausewitz deals with the human condition as amuch as he deals with political and military philosophy.

Now of course I chose the historical, military and religious examples because that is my academic background.   However, to do this one uses all the facts that one has, analyzes them, evaluates them and uses deductive reasoning to determine the “truth” based on the facts on hand.  However we have to understand that we never have all the facts, and that even “facts” that we have might not withstand the test of time or further examination.  This is true in history and the sciences.   It also has some basis in faith, which is why I prefer the historic Anglican-Catholic triad of Scripture, Tradition and Reason versus a Scripture alone or Scripture and Tradition basis for faith.  Will I always be right? No, but I will use my errors to discover truth and not be content to remain in them.  To plan we make assumptions about the future.  Those assumptions must be tested as the situation develops.  In Medicine physicians when diagnosing a condition make a differential diagnosis.  It is a manner of testing our assumptions based on the facts on hand.  The military uses a planning process in which assumptions are tested.  Assumptions based on the evidence that we have are essential to planning for the future.  Again this goes for personal matters as well.  To quote MCDP-5 Planning, the Marine Corps Planning Process:

the defining features of the planning challenge are uncertainty and time. More than anything else, considerations of time and uncertainty dictate our approach to planning. All planning is based on imperfect knowledge and involves assumptions about the future. All planning by definition is future-oriented, and the future by nature is uncertain. No matter how determined we are to be fully prepared for a situation, there are finite limits to our ability to plan for the future. The more certain the future is, the easier it is to plan.”

This is not easy, but making assumptions and planning for an uncertain future is far better than quoting people out of context to make it look like we have things figured out when we have never seriously studied them.  As Sergeant Striker (John Wayne) said in the Sands of Iwo Jima: “Life’s tough, it’s tougher when you’re stupid.”   Living life based on unstudied principles and attempting to determine the nature of someone by their attributes is not logical or rational.  We have to be careful.  This may not seem to be too spiritual but as Jesus said “Be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves.”  Or as a Trekkie might say: Be as crafty as a Romulan but peaceful as a Vulcan.

Peace,

Steve+

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