Semper Fi

The brotherhood of the faithful, those who persevered no matter what, is a sustaining force in life yesterday and tomorrow. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.

Nothing defines endurance better than a Marine. I have known a few Marines in my life; in fact my father-in-law was a Marine and I have several friends who have served in the corps. These are a special breed of people, not that they really look much different in civilian life than you or I. It’s more a matter of heart than it is body that defines a Marine.

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.

A few days after the tragedy, I recall coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.

As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words -- “Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.” With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country -- those who have remained faithful.

(J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.)

Never giving up. I guess that’s the import of this story. Even when things are seemingly hopeless and the pain is unbear- able, a Marine is forever faithful. I asked a Marine friend of mine recently what “forever faithful” really meant to him. I thought that it would take a while for him to respond in the careful and detailed way so endemic to the Marine psyche. Yet, his eyes simply brightened for a moment as if he was wondering why I had never asked the question before. He took off his baseball cap and with hands at his side he simply said, “It means that no matter how hard it gets or how bad I feel, I know that there is always one thing I can rely on; something that blunts the pain and brightens my heart no matter what. And that is, I will always have my Marine brothers to rely on. Nothing can hold a Marine team down. Nothing can stop or detour a corps team. Individually a Marine is a worthy foe––as a group they are unbeatable.” He smiled, put his hat back on and wiped a bit of a tear from the corner of his eye. “Semper Fi Brother, Semper Fi!” He pointed to his heart and nodded his head.

It didn’t take me but a moment to understand what he was talking about. The brotherhood of the faithful, those who per- severed no matter what, was a sustaining force in his life then and now. A Marine endures whatever comes his way because a Marine can always count on another Marine to be there for him. Thank God that there is someone who is “always faithful” in our lives; someone we can count on to be there when we need Him. Jesus, our “Semper Fi” brother!

We pray. Heavenly Father, teach us to persevere even when life gets so heavy that we just can’t bear up under the weight any more. Give us an attitude daily that having friends is the key to being able to cope when life gets us really down. May we always seek these with the hope and the belief that as a group, even in defeat, we are unbeatable. May we always be faithful Father. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)

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