The Marines have landed
The Marines have landed ... this time not in Tripoli, Iwo Jima, or in a thousand other hot spots throughout the world and American history. This time the Marines have landed in Peachtree City, Ga.
From across the state they come and from other locations, too. Some of them are of the Greatest Generation and saw combat in World War II. Some did their duty in Korea and others fought their way through the jungles of Vietnam. Still others did their part in Desert Storm and some were in the most recent sandbox conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There were other places where a number of them served ... Lebanon, the Cuban Crisis, and treacherous places where people shot at them or otherwise tried to kill them.
Some of the Marines were “cold war warriors” who never fired a shot in anger but stood as a deterrent against global Communist superpowers.
They all have one thing in common — they were and still are United States Marines.
Over the next couple of days about 300 of them, all members of the Marine Corps League, a veterans’ organization for honorably discharged Marines and Navy corpsmen who served with the Fleet Marine Force, are gathering for their annual state convention.
The meeting this Friday and Saturday is being held at the Wyndham Conference Center and is being hosted by Marine Corps League Detachment #1325 — the Clyde Thomson Detachment — serving Coweta and Fayette counties.
A new detachment barely three years old, MCL 1325 now boasts over 60 Marines, including two FMF corpsmen.
Some may say that these men and women are “ex-Marines” or “former Marines,” but as anybody who watches NCIS knows, and, as Leroy Jethro Gibbs has stated emphatically, there is no such thing.
Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos, said, “A Marine is a Marine ... there’s no such thing as a former Marine. You’re a Marine, just in a different uniform and you’re in a different phase of your life. But you’ll always be a Marine because you went to Parris Island, San Diego, or the hills of Quantico.”
The wives of many of these Marines will be visiting and touring downtown Senoia where the mayor has proclaimed the day “Marine Wives’ Day.” The Marines who have landed here will be shopping and visiting throughout Fayette and Coweta counties.
They might not look like the person on a recruiter poster any longer but, as a bumper sticker says, while not so lean, or nearly as mean, they are still Marines. Most of them may be wearing clothing that marks them as Marines.
So, if you see one (or a group of them), approach them, thank them for their service, and shake their hand. You may be shaking the hands of genuine heroes, though they likely won’t think of themselves as such.
For all of their reputation and occasional bravado, most Marines are quite humble about themselves. Oh, they are fiercely loyal to and loudly proud of their beloved Corps — and rightly so — but they are often self-effacing about themselves.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!”
President Ronald Reagan was a bit kinder to the Leathernecks. He said, “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.”
The 300 who are here were once willing to die for their country if called upon to do so. They still are. And they have landed among us this weekend.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org). He is also a Marine (1970-73) and the Junior Vice Commandant of the detachment described above (www.MCL1325.net).]