U.S. Government, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“On 10 November, 1775, by authorization of the Continental Congress, the first companies of the Marine Corps were gathered at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, under the command of Captain Robert Mullen. 10 November is now your new birthday! Dooo yooou have that absolutely clear, Privates?”



“YES, SIR!!!”

That was the third or fourth week of July, 1964, the first full week of the infamous Boot Camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California. And the above quotation is the Marine Corps version of being “Born Again!” I do hope that the spirit of the late Staff Sergeant F. Hartsock, Platoon Commander and Korean War veteran will forgive me this latest offense. You who have been there and done that know what I speak of, as he has somehow been looking over my shoulder ever since.

Back then (I was in the old Corps) we were to be known as “Leathernecks” and were still in ‘Gung Ho’ mode. “Jarhead” and ‘Hoo-Bah’ came along later. The precise origin and significance of the latter terms have met no end of argumentation over many beers. Disputation accompanied by brews is Corps tradition itself, as the landing/boarding force of the Continental Navy had its genesis at Tun Tavern, itself born in a bar notable for serving the finest suds in Philadelphia, so long ago. The term ‘Leatherneck’ followed as descriptive of the high, stiff collars adorning the older uniforms, and insuring that the head of the wearer was consistently held high.


On November 11, 1918, the “War to End All Wars” came to an end at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” according to tradition and observance. The actual cessation of conflict on the Western Front ended the following year with the Treaty of Versailles. President Woodrow Wilson issued the proclamation calling for the annual observance of Armistice Day on November 11, 1919. An Act of Congress made it a legal holiday in 1938. Although unofficially broadened to include all veterans both deceased and living by WW II veteran Raymond Weeks of Alabama, it did not become known as Veterans Day until an Act of Congress in 1954 and signed into law by President Eisenhower. The 1440 Digest this morning cited an article from the Mental Floss publication calling to our remembrance Alvin King, a shoemaker of Emporia, Kansas, who had lost relatives in the wars and in 1953 called for the town of Emporia to celebrate the holiday as “Veterans Day”. His congressional representative took note and conveyed the idea to Washington, D.C. where it went to the president’s desk for his signature.

Unfortunately the national holiday has endured a checkered observance since, having survived different and shifted dates for its celebration. Fortunately, Veterans Day has in our time achieved a nationwide recognition of its importance in addition to regularity of its observance.



Living in the vicinity of an independent Christian university gone ‘woke’, I muse that if I could teach one course to its undergraduate students that course might be entitled, “What I’ve Seen and Why You Need To”. Unfortunately for the students, I do not do preferred pronouns and have no tolerance level for the academic Thought Police and Speech Patrol. So I will write the book should I live so long.

Born the year after Hiroshima, I grew up in a culture where the “War to End All Wars” of 1918 became something of an ironic byword. During the so-called ‘age of consensus’, it was my privilege as a youth to have spoken with a few veterans of that prior war. Univocally, they had little idea at that post-1918 time of what was to come only a couple of decades after. Korea, the Soviet invasion of Eastern Europe in 1956 and the rising insurgencies in Indochina changed that perspective still more.

And some were recalled after December 7, 1941, to serve in both of them. Imagine…

The third week of our Boot Camp experience brought the morning of 3 August, 1964. The Platoon Commander came onto the platoon street, his face beet red in anger waving a newspaper in his upraised fist. The report was of course the Tonkin Incident, where two North Vietnamese patrol boats (allegedly) attacked an equal number of U. S. warships in the South China Sea. He shouted his message to us that we were to move to the rifle range the following week and that if we ‘maggots’ thought that it had been Hell thus far, we had yet to see what would follow now that we were about to go to war! I have omitted the screamed profanities considering the faint-of-heart readers.

My own reaction was, “Another one, another war??!” And I was only a young 17. Yes, students, why you need to hear, to listen to those of us who have lived through more…

The War to End All Wars ending in 1918 seems to have given way to The Wars that Never End for our country. Vietnam, officially 1960-1975. Iraq War officially 2003-2011 (really?), and the near 20 years of Afghanistan require no introduction at all.

“…wars and rumors of wars…”
“…but the end is not yet…”

St. Matthew 24:6

“Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).

For until You do, there will always be veterans,

Blessings to each and every one,

Father David+

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