Monday, November 9, 2009

Semper Fi

Let not loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. – Proverbs 3:3–4 (RSV)

If you’re a fan of NCIS, like I am, you know that Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs is a diehard former Marine, loyal to the boys of the Corps to the core. Gibbs is the embodiment of the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fi—always faithful.

Maybe that’s why NCIS is one of the top shows on TV. We’re drawn to characters who are larger than life, who embody qualities that are admirable, noble and good, such as faithfulness.

Funny, how hard Hollywood tries to ram its corrupt values down America’s throat. If Hollywood had issued its own “Ten Commandments,” the seventh one would read, “Thou shalt commit adultery,” and the tenth one, “Thou shalt covet thy neighbor’s wife.” You’d think faithfulness were a relic of the ancients.

But it’s not. Just let some government big shot get caught cheating on his wife (or husband), and the affair is splashed across the headlines of America. We hold our leaders to a high standard. We want—no, we demand—honesty, fairness, nobility, trustworthiness and faithfulness—to family, employer, community, country and comrades.

Faithfulness, in spite of all Hollywood does to convince us otherwise, is alive and well in America today. It just doesn’t get the press its opposite does.

Don’t believe me? Just talk to a member or former member of the US Marine Corps, and you’ll get a glimpse of Semper Fi in action. Go to a wedding or gathering of people who are strangers and notice the reaction to a soldier in a Marine Corps uniform. Instant camaraderie. Decals, lapel pins, bumper stickers—anything that identifies a Marine or former Marine results in the same bonding. Marines stick together. They are a loyal brotherhood like no other.

In his web article, “The Meaning of Semper Fidelis,” Cam Beck says that for his family, Semper Fi isn’t just a fancy slogan. It’s a way of life.

“My father retired from the Marine Corps in the ’90s, after serving over 20 years on more than one tour of duty in a combat zone. Therefore, my brothers and I grew up in a culture that demanded excellence and loyalty of its members.”

He finds it difficult to understand the mindsets of those who weren’t brought up with such emphasis on fidelity.

“United States Marines are revered for their downright fanatical devotion to each other, their service and their country,” Beck writes. “The phrase is ‘Always faithful.’ It isn’t ‘Sometimes Faithful.’ Nor is it ‘Usually Faithful,’ but always. It is not negotiable. It is not relative, but absolute. . . . Marines are imbued with Semper Fidelis, and all it means, and because they lived it for so long, they have difficulty accepting any less from others.”*

On Wednesday, our country will honor the former members of every branch of the US military: Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines. Let’s not forget the work of the US Coast Guard, either.

It doesn’t matter when or where they served, from the shores of Iwo Jima to the jungles of Vietnam to the sands of the Middle East. These veterans showed us what faithfulness is all about.

Take time to reflect on their sacrifice and service and what it meant to our country—and what it means to you. Send a card to a veteran you know and express your appreciation for his or her service. Better yet, take him or her out for lunch.

I’m proud to say my family has served in all branches of the US military: my father, Army; my father-in-law, Navy; my brother, Air Force; my husband, the Marines.

My only hope is that my own life will reflect the high standards of the veterans I’ve known.

Semper Fi.

Dear God, thank You for the men and women who have selflessly given of themselves to serve our country. May their sacrifices not be forgotten, and may they receive the honor they deserve. Amen.

Special-Tea: 2 Timothy 4:1–8

*“The Meaning of Semper Fidelis,” by Cam Beck.

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