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What “Semper Fi” REALLY Means To A Veteran

The United States Marine Corps was born 240 years ago, at Tun Tavern, in the Colonial revolutionary capital of Philadelphia, Pa. Over those 240 years, the Marine Corps has earned a remarkable heritage; a proud legacy. The men and women who earned the right to wear the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor insignia —whether in peacetime or in war— entered a brotherhood that remains with them long after they hang up that uniform. It is true: Once a Marine, always a Marine.

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The name “Marine” is more than a simple moniker; it is a personal identity made up of courage, honor, dignity, and faithfulness to one another, and to the Corps. As you will see in the video, the name “Marine” becomes an important part of who you are for the rest of your life. The words, “Semper Fidelis,” are more than a mere motto, they shape the very core of your character for the rest of your life. One of the Marines shown puts it this way:

“When we say ‘Semper Fi’ it means that we are faithful to each other, we are true to each other.”

Forty eight years ago now, I had the privilege to come to know this faithfulness personally. As a nineteen-year-old Navy Corpsman I was given orders to report to Camp Lejeune, NC for Field Medical Service School. On arriving, I was issued Marine Corps uniforms and was introduced to the Marine Corps ethic. I spent a year at Camp Lejeune before I was given orders to Vietnam. On my arrival in Vietnam I was assigned to Bravo Co. 3rd Recon Bn., 3rd Marine Division. I arrived in Khe Sanh just as the 77 day siege began. After Khe Sanh, I went out on many recon patrols with my Marine Corps brothers.

To this day, those men are still my friends. That friendship was born in the crucible of war and the bonds that were formed then are still unbreakable today. It is one of my great pleasures to be able to get together with my Marine brothers every year at our reunions. Then, as now, they treat me as a fellow “Marine.” We few, we lucky few Corpsmen, who were taken into this brotherhood have come to know the meaning of Semper Fidelis intimately, and to love it along with our Marine brothers. I am also proud of the fact that one of my sons-­in-­law is a Marine.

    • The Marine Corps is celebrating other important anniversaries in their history this year as well.
      It was 100 years ago that Marine Recruits began being trained at Parris Island, NC.
    • This year is also the 70th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima, which stands out as one of the Marine Corps’ finest hours.
    • 50 years ago this year, the Marines engaged in their first battles in Vietnam in Operation Starlight.

These are only a few of the highlights of the now 240 year history of the United States Marine Corps.


The Veterans Site would like to add its birthday greetings to all of our Marine Corps brothers and sisters, past and present.

Though the smallest of the armed forces under the Department of Defense, your dedication, faithfulness, and service to each other and to the nation looms large, and goes far beyond our ability to thank you properly. But we offer our thanks to all who have proudly served under the insignia of the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. In honoring your motto, “Semper Fidelis,” you have shown us the true meaning of faithfulness. We offer the Marine Corps our eternal respect and thanks on your 240th birthday.

Semper Fi, Marines! Ooorah!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.