Twenty-eight years ago, I made a commitment – my first – when I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. It is easy for me to remember the date, because I enlisted on my eighteenth birthday. Who does that? Anyway, the following summer, I took the first step toward honoring that commitment, stepping off a bus and placing my feet squarely upon a set of yellow footprints. I didn’t think much about the significance of those yellow footprints at the time – wasn’t exactly the yellow brick road – but I later realized they represented the beginning of a new path, a new course in my life. Thirteen weeks later, I had earned the title – Marine. Was I proud? You bet! But, more importantly, I was changed forever. A new man. More disciplined. More honorable. More principled. Readied for whatever was just around the corner. And, though I was discharged – honorably – in 1996, I never truly left The Corps, and The Corps certainly never left me.
Today, Marines around the globe celebrate “our” 241st birthday. Every Marine knows the birthday and birthplace of our beloved Corps. 10 November 1775. Tun Tavern. The rest, is history. And, what history we’ve made!
I love you all, my brothers and sisters, leathernecks, devil dogs, Marines one and all. I salute those who have gone before us, those who are serving as I write this, and those who served and are still among us today. I am honored to have stood with you on those yellow footprints. I will never forget them. I will never forget you.
Once, and Always! Semper Fi, and Happy Birthday Marines!