This essay, which appears on a marine's blog, captures much of what I wanted to say further about 2nd Lt. JP Blecksmith, who was killed in the battle for Fallujah. I attended his funeral because he is a son of my parish and because i wanted to honor his memory.
It was an impressive, awe inspiring ritual. More than 1500 people attended, completely filling our parish church AND the new parish hall. We all knew that we were in the presence of a true hero. On the back of the program was a quote from another son of our parish, General George S. Patton, Jr. "Let me not mourn for men who died fighting, but rather let me be glad that such heros lived"
In thinking about JP, as his friends called him, I reflected that he could have chosen so many other careers. For those who are not familiar with San Marino, it is a kind of older, quieter, more Republican Beverly Hills. JP was privileged to have parents who could provide him with a solid education. He attended Annapolis and could have chosen the Navy and, in this war, relative safety. He chose the Marines. The wonderful essay I have linked here talks about the unique history of the United States Marine Corps. You join the Marines to fight, if they will have you. You are trained to a high standard of honor and spirit. We are honored as a nation to have such men to protect us. Read the excerpt below and follow the link. It is well worth reading.
Domine, Non Sum Dignus » What Makes a Marine a Marine?: "All Marines die in the red flash of battle or the white cold of the nursing home. In the vigor of youth or the infirmity of age all will eventually die, but the Marine Corps lives on. Every Marine who ever lived is living still, in the Marines who claim the title today. It is that sense of belonging to something that will outlive your own mortality which gives people a light to live by and a flame to mark their passing."