My wife and I spent a few hours with a reality-based community on November 1. Those few hours have made the last few days after the election much more bearable.
While the Marine Corps’ official birthday is on November 10, the Marines with GS Ammunition Platoon, 4th Supply Battalion, held their birthday ball in Topeka a few days early.The program started with a birthday message from General James T. Conway, the current Commandant of the Marine Corps. The message, which came in the form of a video, had a theme that was largely absent from the just concluded presidential campaign: Our country is still threatened by Islamic terrorists.
Conway first talked about the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut on October 23, 1983, which occurred when I was a young Marine. “Extremists have attacked our Nation, at home and abroad, numerous times since that fateful day in Beirut,” Conway said. “Their aim has always been the same—to kill as many innocent Americans as possible. The attacks of 11 September 2001 changed our Nation forever, and our President has resolved that this Nation will not stand idle while murderous terrorists plan their next strike. Marines will continue to take the fight to the enemy—hitting them on their own turf, crushing them when they show themselves, and finding them where they hide.”
Conway’s video included footage of the horrors this nation experienced on 9/11. Just two months ago, many in the mainstream media had a conniption fit when similar footage was shared during the Republican National Convention. However, not a single Marine in the ballroom had a problem with this reality being presented during a birthday celebration.
After the posting of the Colors, the Marines held their cake-cutting ceremony. According to tradition, the oldest and youngest Marines present get the first pieces of cake. When the master of ceremonies noted that the youngest Marine was born in 1990, I realized that most of the Marines in the ballroom were born after I left the Marines in December 1985. More importantly, I also realized that most, if not all, of these Marines enlisted or reenlisted after 9/11. They enlisted knowing that there was a very good chance that they would see combat in a distant land. Many of them already had four or five medals proudly displayed on their chests.
The most poignant portion of the ceremony was when Cpl. James R. “Jim” Freel, the guest of honor, addressed the Marines. Freel, a former chief of police with the Topeka Police Department, enlisted in the Marines during World War II. On February 19, 1945, Freel’s company made an amphibious landing on Iwo Jima, where he was wounded on the beach.
Freel compared Marines of his day with the current generation of Marines. “You’re better educated, have better equipment, and have received better training,” Freel said. “However, you have it tougher than we did. We went to war with the whole country behind us. Today, only half of your countrymen support you. We also had the media with us. Today the media are against you. They call ours the greatest generation. However, I believe yours is a greater generation.”
Unfortunately, we will soon have a president who is against the Marines and other members of our armed forces. Things are going to get more difficult for these brave, young men and women.
When Barack Obama was the age of these young Marines, most of whom were too young to take advantage of the offerings at the cash bar, he escaped reality by using cocaine and marijuana. It now seems that a majority of voters last Tuesday have opted to escape reality by taking a “drug” known as Obama. They were told that this drug would take away all their problems and make them happy. However, the Marines know that this will continue to be a dangerous world long after Barack Obama is sworn in as president next January. Our men and women in uniform will continue to accept and confront reality.
It would be easy to lose faith in America after the election of Obama as president. However, the young Marines in Topeka showed me that there are still many good young men and women who care so much about this country that they have taken an oath to defend it. The least we can do is support them and oppose any efforts to weaken their resolve.