I have a picture in my head of the Marine Corps as a single line of willing warriors marching in lockstep with American history since 1775.
Every day, those who have survived the journey peel off from the head of the line and return to civilian life. And every day fresh-faced Americans fall in at line’s end, quickly match the pace of the people before them and take up the cadence.
The line never shortens, never falters – it just goes marching on.
The other services – Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard – have similar lines, marching, sailing and flying through the peace and wars of U.S. history. And if not for them, all of them, there would be no United States of America.
It’s that simple.
This, the greatest nation on Earth, exists only because millions of its citizens over the
last 239 years have stepped up and offered their blood and very being on the altar of freedom.
Twenty million of our neighbors living today have marched in one of those lines.
Veterans Day is theirs. Thank them for sharing it.
Other than the traditional medals for bravery – from the Bronze Star to the Medal of Honor – no award is more proudly worn by an Army soldier than the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Known simply as the CIB, the wreath-embraced musket on a field of infantry blue is meant to be earned the hard way by grunts and Special Forces: in a firefight with the enemy. He’s shooting at you, you’re shooting at him.
A matter of life and death.
Tens of thousands of CIBs have been bestowed in Iraq and Afghanistan, so when a GI started shooting Wednesday at Fort Hood,Texas, at least hundreds of combat infantrymen heard the public address system telling them to “Shelter in place.”
Shelter in place is a recently-born pathetic phrase that means “Hide where you are and pray the bad man doesn’t find you.” It’s reminiscent of advice once given women to lie there and quietly take it when a rapist comes calling. Or to smile and give the robber whatever he wants. Maybe he won’t hurt you.
It’s a phrase only appropriate in some places – a school, for example – where everyone in authority is only armed with good intentions.
Two crazies have now shot up Fort Hood, home to legions of soldiers who wear the CIB. The first crazy was an Islamic terrorist masquerading as a psychiatrist. The second spent four months in Iraq and never heard a shot fired in anger. Both had plenty of time to do their dirty work.
Combat-tested soldiers without mental health issues should be allowed to arm themselves wherever they are – Afghanistan or Texas.