Lesson from the Leathernecks

Dean at the entrance of the  Marine Corps base where he underwent basic training in 1968-1969
Dean at the entrance of the Marine Corps base where he underwent basic training in 1968-1969


Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. —Proverbs 3:3 (NIV)

One of the high points of our trip to South Carolina earlier this month was a visit to Parris Island. Forty-seven years ago my husband, Dean, underwent U.S. Marine Corps basic training there.

We spent hours taking in the exhibits in the museum, especially the ones pertaining the Vietnam War era, during which Dean served. I got a glimpse into a time period of my husband’s life that helped to mold him into the man he is today. One exhibit especially was meaningful—the ejection seat and canopy of an F-4 Phantom, the jet Dean worked on as an aircraft electrician.

Dean explains how the canopy and ejection seat worked.
Dean explains how the canopy and ejection seat worked.

The “Core Values” display particularly intrigued me—mostly because it seems in today’s society “core values” seems to be a hot button topic. I learned that the Marine Corps incorporates Core Values in its training of recruits: “From the first contact with a recruit, through the physical, mental, and moral challenges of recruit training, to the final dismissal,” reads the display, “the transformation from an individual to a Marine who is committed to our Core Values and service to our country begins here (basic training).”

I love this banner over an intersection on the base.
I love this banner over an intersection on the base.

There are three Core Values: Honor, Courage, and Commitment.

Honor, as defined by the USMC, is “the quality that guides Marines to never lie, cheat, or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; to respect human dignity; and to have concern and respect for each other.”

Courage is “the mental, moral, and physical strength ingrained in Marines to carry them through the challenges of combat and the mastery of fear; to do what is right; to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct; to lead by example, and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure.”

Commitment, the final Core Value, is “the spirit of determination and dedication . . . that leads to the highest order of discipline for unit and self; it is the ingredient that enables 24-hour-a-day dedication to Corps and country; pride; concern for others; and unrelenting determination to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor.”

Add to that the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fi (Semper Fidelis), meaning “always faithful, always loyal,” being true (devoted) to God, family, friends, duty, country.

Dean reflects on his experience as a U. S. Marine.
Dean reflects on his experience as a U. S. Marine.

Honor, courage, commitment, faithfulness, loyalty—traits God, too, wants us to consciously develop in our character and in our children (see Deuteronomy 11:18–20).

These traits guide us, provide a foundation for right living, and make us better people. We admire them in our heroes. They are qualities we should look for in the candidates as we go to the polls.

Just think: What would our community be like if everyone adhered to these Core Values? Our society? Our country? Our world?

Former President Ronald Reagan once said, “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.”

Neither should the child of God.

Father, help me to work with You as You develop these qualities in me. May I be a living example of a true Christian. Amen.


 Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 1

To view a few more pictures of our trip (I plan to add more), click here.

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