Originally published in A Colonel of Truth on December 9, 2016
Tuesday evening past I had dinner with Tony—a Marine (retired) brother known for more than a quarter century.Duty brought him to town.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. – Thomas Jefferson
I arrived at the Bistro, owned by a Marine couple, about twenty minutes prior, secured a table, ordered a draft, and tuned into the piped in smooth jazz set at easy volume.
The doors had just opened and nary another customer.
Peaceful it was.
The waitress brought the iced glass of beer and a couple of menus.
Tony arrived after I’d finished the beer.
We did the traditional handshake, bear hug, back slap, “Great to see you, brother,” greeting, then sat.
What do two Marines inevitably talk about?
Marines, of course.
We swapped stories about early days—mostly about times before we’d met at Camp Lejeune a decade into our respective careers.
He, too, an infantryman (and recon Marine) told one of he, a second lieutenant, truthfully answering a senior Marine’s weapons (mortar) readiness question posed during an air alert inspection.
What made for a great story was the Marine asking the question was the commandant. Chain of command antics followed. But the weapon’s problem was remedied and quick.
And so went memories over dinner.
Laughs aplenty! And we wondered if today’s Marines have as much fun—concluding, likely not.
After dinner I commented about his Marine son, a corporal—like Dad, an infantryman recon type.
Tony told amusing stories about his son going through the ‘right of passage’ at the Recruit Depot, San Diego—and sending his son letters with a return address reflecting a colonel. Drill Instructors love that sort of thing during mail call.
And followed stories about recon and his son meeting Marines, colorful characters, Dad served with decades earlier.
Small Corps. The recon family smaller.
Tony was heading home the next day and shared plans to travel to Arlington, Virginia, over the weekend of the 17th to visit his son.
I knew why.
Six years ago in Afghanistan, Tony’s son was killed in combat. He is going to lay a Remembrance Wreath.
In closing …
For selfless and courageous men and women, like Tony and his son, past and present, liberty ours.
The day after our dinner, Admiral Harry Harris, U. S. Navy, Commander, United States Pacific Command, delivered 75th Anniversary remarks to a crowd of thousands gathered at Pearl Harbor. His passionate words about those who gave their lives that day never kneeling before our Colors and National Anthem sparked a standing ovation.
Yesterday in the news was confirmation a young U. S. Marine Corps captain F/A-18 pilot did not survive ejection—ironically, off the coast of Japan during a training mission. He left a wife, child, and inbound child.
Today fellow citizens train, stand watch, and march into battle. Duty they embrace.
Freedom—it comes only at great sacrifice and cost; in battle and training for.
If moved by the Christmas spirit, visit: wreathsacrossamerica.org
A couple years back I read a personal letter Admiral Harris wrote to a newly selected admiral. He was congratulatory! But it was advice he offered that has stuck with me. In short, he wrote that an admiral should only use the word “I” on two occasions—”I was wrong,” and “I thank you!”
Seems to me that’s exactly what those who are stupidly taking a knee before our Colors and during our National Anthem should stand and say while looking into the collective eyes of America—especially veterans—”I was wrong, and I thank you!”