We went to the Festival of Life last year. It turned out that we went to the wrong end of the field and would have to walk across it. I had dropped my family off at the edge of the football field we had to cross, and I was going to park the car. My (then) two-year-old son was wearing my Marine Corps boonie cover. This particular cover is digital woodland camouflage with an Eagle, Globe and Anchor embroidered on the front. As Annie and the kids were walking across the football field, the following conversation took place with a random man:
Man: Hey, where’d you get that hat? Not just anybody can wear that hat.
Annie: His dad’s a Marine.
Man: All right then. (To Gabe) Semper Fi, Buddy.
Semper Fidelis is to the Marine Corps as peanuts are to peanut butter. Take the Semper Fidelis out of the Marine, and you’re left with something other than a Marine. To those who truly adopt the ethos of the Corps, it’s a way of life.
Semper Fidelis. Always Faithful. This phrase was adopted as the motto of the United States Marine Corps in 1883. Since then it has been a guiding force for Marines young and old. From Private to General, Semper Fidelis is a common thread with which every Marine can identify. It ties us together. Sure, “Rifleman first”, “Tip of the spear”, “The few, the proud” are all great and make us proud of who we are, but the reason I trust my life to the Marine next to me is because of Semper Fidelis.
Barry Naum, a dear brother and sometimes contributor here, has often said that the Marines have the best advertising among the military branches. Check out this commercial:
It’s a challenge to rise above the norm. Mediocrity has no place here. But, if you make it, you will be changed forever. You will never be what you were before. You will always be a Marine, and you will be reborn into Semper Fidelis.
Unfortunately, Marines are still human. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. We have Semper Fidelis bred into us as we are reborn at bootcamp, but, sometimes, Marines make bad choices. Sometimes, Marines leave that absolute code of conduct. What then? The discipline depends on the situation, but there is an understanding that the goal is to bring that Marine back to the common understanding of Semper Fidelis.
I’ve been thinking about this during Lent this year. Lent’s a time for breaking down idols and letting God chip away things in our lives to reveal Himself more fully. I have this fear, though: What happens when the idols come back and tempt me again? What happens when I am in a moment of weakness? What happens if I fall back into my old ways?
Our God is Semper Fidelis. He is both faithful and just. In His faithfulness and justice, our Father disciplines to bring us back to Himself. All of this He does because He loves us. Am I willing to receive loving discipline? Am I willing to yield to God’s faithfulness? Will I let that perfect love drive out my fear?
If we’re willing to yield to that faithfulness and let that love drive out our fear, we’ll be changed forever. We will never be what we were before. We will always be sons, and we will be born into the Father’s Semper Fidelis.