Denver Street Photography |The Young Marines

confidence of youth
oblivious to wisdom
right behind your back

Young Marine Creed

1. Obey my parents and all others in charge of me whether young or old.
2. Keep myself neat at all times without other people telling me to.
3. Keep myself clean in mind by attending the church of my faith.
4. Keep my mind alert to learn in school, at home, or at play.
5. Remember having self-discipline will enable me to control my body and mind in case of an emergency.

I served in the Marine Corps between 1993 and 1997. My father was a Marine, and his father before him. I am proud of my service, yet I don’t talk about it as readily as I used to. When I was young, I just thought it was the right thing to do. To serve my country, to take an oath of service.

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

I received the Combat Action Ribbon for service in Operation United Shield. I did not discharge my weapon or engage in any hand to hand combat. I didn’t even learn that I had received the Combat Action Ribbon until years after I had been honorably discharged from service.

I am conflicted by this. I never mention it in person to anyone, because I don’t feel I deserved it. Yes, there were bullets that occasionally whizzed over my head on their way to some unknown destination, and there was a firefight on our way back to the ship, but I was not running for my life or anything. I was just in the right place at the right time.

I am conflicted by my feelings about life in general and how they relate to my past. I am non-religious, and I struggle to understand how so many people take their religion seriously enough to kill for it. I don’t pretend to have any idea if God is real, or how humankind came to be. Maybe God is real, maybe he (or she, or it) isn’t. So when I look at that oath, and think of how I swore to GOD that I would protect my country against all enemies, it just seems strange to me. What am I swearing to? To fight whoever they tell me is bad for the United States and its interests?

It seems as if I was bred for war, along with every other young man or woman from a family with a military background. It becomes a sort of right of passage, something I needed to do to prove to my dad and his brothers that I could be a Marine too. I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t think about dying, I just signed the papers and turned my life over to the Government.

The friendships and experiences I had in the Marines, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. That being said, I would not encourage my sons to join right now. I love them too much. I don’t even know who is good and who is bad anymore, it doesn’t seem so cut and dry. I thought about my daughter, and what I would say to her if she wanted to join in her future. Then I thought about the constant stories in the news of women in the military being raped, and I instantly knew that I would discourage her from taking that path.

I don’t want to fight anymore. I don’t want to feel angry all the time. I want to think about peace and promote it. I want to teach my children to be caring and compassionate towards other, to help their fellow man in any way they can.

I look at this picture, and I see those Young Marines, and how proud they are, and I read their creed, and I think to myself, these are all good traits to encourage in our youth. I look at this group here, and I wonder if any of them are destined for that wheelchair behind them or worse. For what? Fossil fuels? Water rights? Democracy? I want to fight for LOVE. I want to believe that fundamental changes in the way we live our lives is a real possibility. I want the human race to learn to co-operate the same way they are teaching my 3 year old. Everyone needs to share and take turns. We are not individuals, we are humans, all of us connected by that one common thread.

This is in no way meant to disrespect the Young Marines organization, the Marine Corps or our Government. The Young Marines goal is to keep kids off drugs and out of trouble. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. These are just the questions I have but am scared to talk about to people in real life. So I put them on this blog to see if anyone else feels the same way I do. I am looking for that human connection, so I can feel like I belong. Maybe this is why change is so hard. I am struggling in the decision to post this entry, because I am worried about who I may offend, and what friends I might lose in the process. All of my fellow Marines that I served with have access to this blog. I feel like I am dishonoring myself and the Marine Corps by having these thoughts. That is how deep it is ingrained. That is why I am a skeptic, because I have experienced what it is to be a Marine first hand, and it isn’t easy or glamorous. It isn’t like the commercials you see when youre watching football. It is blood, sweat, and tears. Mental anguish.

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Denver Street Photography |The Young Marines

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22 thoughts on “Denver Street Photography |The Young Marines

  1. My husband was a career Air Force officer, and I can relate to what you are saying. One of the reasons he took an early retirement was because he became a Christian and couldn’t live with a foot in both camps. We loved our time in the military – back then it was like one big family – and I don’t think either of us could have missed it. You seem to have had a similar sort of service to my husband. He took an oath of loyalty to the Queen. I think that military men and women have an understanding of what war is really about, and many of them would opt for peace any time. I am sad that people are killing other people in the name of religion. A lot of the time it is more about greed and power. And no, I do not think you are dishonouring the Marine Corps with your blog. You are just grappling with the dilemma that most decent people face.

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    • Thanks for this great comment. It is a moral dilemma to be sure. I love the fact that I can get these feelings and thoughts off my chest in this type of forum. I don’t think I could carry a rational conversation about in person, especially not with other Marines. I agree with your assessment that it really is more about greed and power than religion. All three of those topics are scary in their own right. I think we have been doing it wrong since the beginning. 🙂 Thank you for being such a loyal reader of the blog.

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  2. I will say I understand your thoughts and agree with them 100%. I am not in the military and really have no connection except for knowing people who have served. I feel the same way about religion and not knowing who, him or her, why and how. Yes, bad is no longer cut and dry and it seems our govt must be involved at all times, regardless of it being our country. I am confused and conflicted and I can understand your trepidation for expressing it in written form. I applaud this piece and I believe these feelings are not a small minority. I would suffice it to say a majority really. Just because we question or feel uneasy about the military’s mission and ideals means in no way that we are disrespectful of those who serve. On the contrary – We have the freedom to think and believe the way we do. Our military helps to defend our rights. We are all connected.

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    • So true. These are really tough questions. I’m glad to see that there are so many others who share these sentiments. I guess technically according to the labels they assign us for our feelings, I’m supposed to be Agnostic, but I just don’t like labels like that. Thank you for your thoughtful response!

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  3. Great photo to accompany a post that many of us identify and agree with. The times make it hard to know just where to stand, the best we can do is teach our children well, stand up for our values and exercise tolerance. Clear lines of communication and reaching our for that human connection are indeed key to making a difference. Thanks for following…

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  4. As a former Navy Corpsman and Navy physician I appreciate you sharing your thoughtful perspective and thank you for your service. Life is so much more complex than the media and Super Bowl commercial make it appear.

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  5. This is such a poignant post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights — I think you ask very important questions yet this is not a piece that condemns anyone. Thank you also for stopping by Travel Oops.

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    • No problem, you have an awesome blog! I appreciate your feedback. I was trying to be very careful not to hurt anyone’s feelings or judge anyone based on their beliefs. No disrespect intended!

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  6. I’m a British born Canadian citizen. I was raised Christian, and although I firmly retain my faith in God, my exposure to hypocricies have inspired me to see God as separate from any church or religion. I’ve never been in the military, nor exposed to any military conflict.

    Many of the thing you’ve written about here, I identify with every day.

    You seem to me to be very intelligent because you’ve come to a point in your life in which you’re not afraid to question the things and traditions that you have been taught. You’re discerning thing for yourself, and accepting for yourself only the things that will further the advancement of all people, of all sorts, everywhere.

    That’s about all I have to say about it.

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  7. Two previous generations of my family were decimated by wars. They all volunteered, most died in a foreign land and those who did come back were broken by what they saw. My father received the DCM, which was a short step from a VC. He was a brave man but what he saw destroyed his life.
    Having seen what you have seen I applaud your courage in speaking up. I hope your buddies have the sense to see that you are asking questions that have to be asked.
    Terry

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  8. What a brave post! I agree with everything, except that everything in the marine’s creed is good. I don’t agree with that. To always obey anyone in charge of you–there have to be exceptions; ultimately one is always responsible for oneself, otherwise you get the “I was just obeying orders” excuse. But it’s obvious why it’s in the creed: they don’t want independent thinkers. Like you said, they want you to sign your life over to the government.

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  9. Good post. You should know that there are many believers who question such oaths as well, so I’d like to encourage you not to see them as an inherent part of religious belief. I would say they are common to the religious subculture of which you were a part, though.

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  10. Thank you for your honesty. Excellent post. Not being from the US, not having a military background, I don’t understand the reluctance of you, and I suspect many others, to speak out against the marines and US military action all over the world. I’m heartened to hear there are people like you who are at least conflicted by US foreign policy over the past recent decades. Frankly it horrifies me. And it horrifies me that Britain joins in. And Australia too sometimes. And it horrifies me that due to flawed election systems and too many political parties both Australia and Canada now have governments that will sell their countries out. It’s all about greed and power. I hear so many Americans talking about not wanting to disrespect those who serve. Bowing down to those who serve. Making gods out of those who serve. Serve what exactly? Serve who?
    Sorry. End of rant. I think your post was very thoughtful and very very courageous.

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