03 November 2017


by Andy Weddington
Friday, 03 November 2017

For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. Rudyard Kipling

Today's commentary title may ring familiar. 

Written and published on Wednesday, 20 July 2016, it's again relevant this week.

A couple of days ago Laura Ingraham, a new anchor on the Fox News Channel night lineup (Ingraham Angle), sat with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (for whom she clerked) for a chat.

Justice Thomas, speaking to current events, said something that caught my attention. 

He said he no longer knew what it is that binds America. 

Reflecting on his youth, Justice Thomas remarked that no matter our differences there was always our values, principles, etc., our Constitution, and flag that rallied Americans. Common ground. Binders. 

He said today there are people who no longer believe in those values and principles, our Constitution, nor flag and what it represents - that those things are not worth fighting for. 

To fight for those things, as he said, is his job.

But his emotion (word and body language) was that it was more than his job. His passion. He believes in and loves America. 


It's our job, too.

Merriam-Webster lists more than a dozen definitions for bind.

Among them: to cause to stick together; to cause to have an emotional attachment. 

So how are those states of humanness realized? 

It's not complicated. 

Marines stick together. 

Marines have an emotional attachment to each other.

Marines bind - to our Constitution; to our country; to our flag. And to principles, values, morals, ethics, and sense of right and wrong thereof. 


From July 2016 ... 

I've been watching the Republican Convention. Listening. Monitoring social media. And, in contrast, mulling over last week.

I spent a few days in the South Carolina low country. 

The occasion? 

A rally with Marines and their families.

We, from across the country, returned to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island - our place of duty more than three decades ago.


F Company (2d Recruit Training Battalion) Marines - proper and honorary. 

Drill Instructors - the Marines who made Marines. All retired. 

Officers - the Marines who led and supervised the Marines making Marines. But for one, all retired. 

And a Marine (a recruit in the day and his wife) - now a retired police officer. He told, emotionally, of a tough home life and of the Marine Corps saving his life. 

That which binds us?

A simple, elegant emblem - the eagle, globe, and anchor.

But it is not the emblem in and of itself that binds rather what it represents - courage; self-sacrifice; personal hardship; perseverance; teamwork; leadership; followership; trust; mutual respect; accomplishing mission; and more that forges an ethos and camaraderie.

Early Saturday morning we witnessed two companies of recruits complete the final foot march of their Crucible - a 54-hour test of physical, mental, and moral courage under the strains of continuous movement and leadership challenges, foot marches under load, limited food, and sleep deprivation. 

With completion, the Senior Drill Instructor presented each recruit their reward: An emblem and title Marine.

From bleachers, nearby and behind the formation, we discreetly observed the ceremony. 

They now one of us.   

That - generation, this is - matters not.

Marines are Marines. 

For what binds centuries of Marines has not changed - emblem; commitment to one another; oath to Constitution; and a flag.

Such a simple formula. Chemistry. 

What binds America?

For years I've pondered that question. 

I have no definitive idea. And apparently nor does anyone else.

Today's divided America is for want of something simple - a definable common experience and the application and practice thereof for life. 

How do we fix it?

Courage; self-sacrifice; personal hardship; perseverance; teamwork; leadership; followership; trust; mutual respect; accomplishing mission; and more that forges an ethos and camaraderie.

Mr. Kipling knew. 

It's doable. 

But not easy. 

Ask a Marine!

1 comment:

Tom Hickinbotham said...

I remember very well, sitting in the bleachers, just prior to sunrise, observing the recruits' arrival at the parade deck. Then, the formation and presentation to each recruit his/her EGA device, and the title "Marine." A very moving, emotional experience for all those present, participants and witnesses alike. The memory of it still sends chills down my spine!!