Friends of mine from other on-line communities know that every year, on this date, I tend to post an entry about the anniversary, or “birthday” of the United States Marine Corps.
I usually start with a discussion of the birth of my Corps, in the early days of the American Revolution and go on to discuss our combat history and the connectedness that Marines feel with all of our old comrades and our younger brother and sister Marines that are now serving.
This year will be an exception.
While my pride at being a Marine in my youth is undiminished, and while the combat record of the Marine Corps is as splendid today as it has ever been, I am going to talk about something a little different.
This year, on the 231st anniversary of our Corps, I want to talk about the following young Marines:
Sergeant Julian Arechaga, 23
Lance Corporal Jon Bowman, 21
Lance Corporal Clifford Collinsworth, 20
Lance Corporal Nathan Elrod, 20
Lance Corporal Nicholas Manoukian, 22
Private First Class Shelby Feniello, 25
These six men belonged to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, which is the last unit I served in while I was in the Corps.
All six of them were killed in Anbar province, Iraq, last month.
Although these men have now joined the ranks of our fallen, and their memories will be honored forever, I can’t help but feel, on this special day that is so important to Marines, that these people who had so much of their lives ahead of them, gave the ultimate sacrifice in an unjust and immoral war.
On this day before Veteran’s Day, the day that Marines old and young greet each other with a hearty handshake and a jaunty “Happy Birthday Marine!”, please remember these young Marines and other Marines who have given their lives in Operation Iraqi “Freedom”.