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The United States Marine Corps adopted the motto “Semper Fidelis” in 1883. Latin for “Forever Faithful,” the motto inspires Marines to remain faithful to the mission, each other, their Corps, and their Country. But even prior to earning the title “Marine,” most of the men, and women who eventually passed through the hallowed gates of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (San Diego, or Parris Island), felt the winds of patriotism pushing them forward, long before they waved their first flag at a ballgame, or Fourth of July parade.
Waving that American flag in the wind, as the light caught the brilliant colors, standing before it with a hand placed upon your heart as the National Anthem played, removing your hat in respect as it galloped by on horseback, and making sure the Stars and Stripes never touched the ground, as you diligently took Old Glory down every evening before dark, had been ingrained in our identities, and attached to our soul. We not only saw this great symbol of democracy as an extension of our values, character, and our beliefs, but part of ourselves.
What changed? Where did our great country go wrong? While it may be tempting to blame the younger generations, their morals, and their values, we must hold a mirror up to the Nation as a whole, and take a good hard look. When did we lose our backbone, and become afraid of our own shadow? It seems that where the once strong voices of resolve, determination, perseverance, dedication, and esprit de corps, once echoed, there are now only murmurs and whispers. Afraid of offending anyone, our national identity, our very soul, is in danger of being silenced, and shuttered. We are all to blame for where we find ourselves, but accepting this, owning it and bringing it into the light, is our first step back in the right direction.
We can bring this ship about, and allow that strong billowing wind to once again fill the sails, push us forward, and hold that flag high. As a nation, we can decide which way to turn our rudder, and which course we will follow. There is still time to stand tall and proudly sing the Star Spangled Banner before the ball game, to vote, and allow the will of the American public to be heard from sea to shining sea, to speak up, take a stand in your town, and join me in taking back America, one beautiful main street at a time.
In the indelible lyrics penned by Irving Berlin, we must “Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with a light from above.”
Jonathan S. Weiss is a United States Marine Veteran and the President of Veterans Outreach Initiative of Texas (VOIOTX).