DON'T YOU DARE CALL ME A SOLDIER!!!
Marines' sites and bulletin boards on the
Internet are nothing short of amazing regarding
what many do not know about Marine Corps history
and traditions. There are numerous cases where
Marines--some of them even senior enlisted
Marines and officers--post and respond to
downright erroneous information demonstrating a
definite lack of knowledge on various topics of
Marine Corps interest. I have addressed several
of these individual topics elsewhere on Gunny
Perhaps, some independent study would be in
order--better start at the top.
One random example, among many I have noticed,
are several items lately where Marines are
lambasting someone or other on the subject of
one's having dared to refer to a Marine, or
Marines, using the term "soldier."
With righteous indignation they scream that they
are Marines, not soldiers, and they decry those
who call them such! And rightfully so, in some
cases, where the media or an individual,
whatever, is using that term within an
Of course, they (both the writer and the Marine)
are acting out of their own lack of knowlege.
The user of the term "soldier" is not aware that
he should generally refer to all Marines as
"Marines"; and the Marine is very likely ignorant
of the fact that the word "soldier" is also
correct, in some cases.
Members of our sister-service, for example, the
U.S. Army, are soldiers, that is their name, but
Marines are not soldiers in that sense at all. I
am referring to Marines as soldiers in a much
broader, higher sense, as a class of soldier that
goes to the root of what a Marine is and does.
Reminds me of an oft-times repeated story of a
U.S. Army major visiting the wounded in a WWI
French hospital in 1918. As the story goes, the
major asked a young soldier if he was indeed an
American. "No sir," he replied, "I'm a Marine."
(Ref US Marine Corps In World war I 1917-1918,
Osprey, by Henry/Pavlovic, 1999)
Such it is that Marines have always exemplified
the inherent pride in their identity as a member
of the MarineCorps.
But, many Marines seem to be unaware of the fact
that the Marine Corps itself, as well as
individual Marines, has long referred with pride
to themselves as soldiers. To be sure, we are,
each of us, a United States Marine, that is our
TITLE, earned and claimed by us all as the
capstone of that which we are. But somewhere
within that coveted title lies the soldier
referred to in the following examples.
One dictionary defines the word Marine as, an
infantry soldier associated with a navy. No doubt
there are many references to the Royal Marines as
soldiers back through history. But we need not go
back that far. Our own U.S. Marine Corps has a
long listing of examples supporting the notion of
Marines as soldiers.
A U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Service poster,
dated May 1866, announces that it is seeking MEN
for its ranks; it then goes on to refer to such
recruits as SOLDIERS no less than six times, and
not once using the word Marine or Marines!
(Ref the book, The Marines, by Simmons/Moskin,
Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, 1998)
And there is the USMC Recruiting Poster of more
recent vintage, shown at the top of this page.
And, in the book, Marine Corps Book of Lists, by
Nofi, Combined Publishing, 1997, the following.
"The Marines are both soldiers and sailors, a
part of the sea services." (Page 154)
"Some Marine Wisdom on Soldiering"
'To be a sergeant, you have to show your stuff.
I'd rather be an outstanding sergeant than just
-GySgt Dan Daly (Page 159)
"Soldiers trained in the ways of the sea,"
-CMC, BGen Benjamin H. Fuller, c. 1934 (Page 181)
"A Dozen Nicknames For Marines"
2. "The Soldiers of the Sea, a traditional term
for Marines dating back at least to the
seventeenth century." (Page 180)
"The finest soldier any captain could wish to
have," said of Dan Daly by BGen W.P. Upshur (Page
The book, "Soldiers of the Sea: The U.S. Marine
Corps," by Col Robert D. Heinl USMC (Ret.),
The play, (and later, two films) "What Price
Glory," by Andersen/Shillings, 1926, has numerous
references to Marines as soldiers.
"He turned down the gold bars of a second
lieutenant. 'I'm a plain soldier,' he said, 'and
I want to stay one.'"
-GySgt John Basilone
(Ref John Basilone --Italian-American Hero
Chapter XX, page 69,The United States Marine
Corps in the World War, by Major Edwin N.
McClellan, USMC,1920, Historical Branch, HQMC,
"In recent years the Marine Corps has devoted a
great deal of time and energy to rifle practice,
believing that one of the first requirements of a
soldier is to know how to shoot...."
And many more references can be found, but
suffice to say, for the purpose of my little
spiel here, that these few examples should
establish that the use of "soldier" was long
commonly in use in the Corps.
The U. S. Marine Corps has a long and glorious
history. There is no need to be "touchy" as to
being referred to as a soldier, even when the
person speaking is not totally aware of all
involved in the fact he is alluding to.
Rather, be yourself informed of what is so and
what isn't, through your own research and
studies. Nor is it of any benefit to deride those
of other services, as is a common practice--
doing so merely reveals your own ignorance, and
it belittles our Corps.
As one old poster states, "Be a Marine!"