A Marine’s Last Will and Testament
Former SSgt Robert A. Hall
I, Robert, an old Mud Marine, being of sound mind, do hereby create this Marine Codicil to my Last Will and Testament, through which I bequeathed all my worldly goods and possessions to those beloved of me in life. This Marine Codicil is to pass on the intangible gifts I received as a Marine, which were beyond the price men put upon worldly possessions.
I have attested to being of “Sound Mind.” That may be challenged by those who think that all Marines are crazy. We have enjoyed and magnified that reputation, of course, to bemuse our friends and intimidate our enemies. As a Navy Psychologist once told me, “The trouble with treating Marines is that if you cure them, they can’t be Marines!” But ours are really the soundest of minds, for the life of our free society depends on warriors. If you do away with us, our civilization commits suicide, surely the ultimate mark of insanity. If there comes a day when is no longer a Marine Corps, the American Idea will die soon after.
To all my Marine brothers and sisters, now and in generations to come, I leave the legacy of our Corps, stretching back to November 10, 1775. It was bequeathed to me by generations of Marines who served before me, who “grew gray in war,” and who gave me those priceless traditions “such as regiments hand down forever.” I have tried in my small way to add to its strength and burnish its luster. Go you and do the same.
To those Marines I served with, I leave my rich stock of Sea Stories, a few of which are even true, that you may embellish them and pass them on to other Marines, to awed members of our sister services and, sanitized for language, to civilians. I also leave you the gratitude of a brother, for you stood by me, cared for my in trouble, and inspired me with your deeds. The poet Alan Seegar, who was KIA in France on July 4, 1916, said it best, “Comrades, you cannot think how thin and blue, look the leftovers of mankind that rest, now that the cream has been skimmed off in you.”
To my Marine DIs, I leave a debt unpaid. The discipline and pride you instilled in me guided me long after I had to shed the uniform for the last time. Thanks to what you did in a few short months, I have had a great life. I’ve tried to make you proud of me every day, and to pay a bit on that debt through my service to my country and my fellow Marines, both in the Corps and in civilian life afterwards.
To my family I leave a few old photos, a few mementos and a service to country in which I hope you take pride as I have. However they serve, I hope future generations of our family find something larger than self to serve, worthy of their time and commitment. There is no happiness in serving the ever-greedy god of self, the root of our world’s troubles.
To our nation’s elected leaders, I leave the Core Values of our Corps: Honor, Courage, Commitment. Imagine if candidates for public office adopted our values as a campaign platform. Imagine candidates with the Honor to tell people the truth and to not trade their support on issues for campaign contributions or personal perks. Imagine elected officials with the Courage to do what was right for the next generation, rather than what was popular to win cheap votes for the next election? Imagine office holders with the Commitment to serve selflessly, live austerely, and do the right regardless of personal cost?
And to the Republic, the country I love, I leave my service. It was little enough payment on the debt every American owes her for the freedoms we have, for the life we live, and for the opportunities we and our loved ones have received in this land. When people thank me for my service, I say, “It was a privilege to wear the uniform of the Republic, and to earn the title Marine.”
I must go now, but I leave my country a new generation of Marines, standing watch out on the lines, putting their bone and blood between the barbarians and our free people, the few guarding the many with their lives. God grant it may ever be so.