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June 2nd, 2005, 5:08 pm #1

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Political Correctness At Its Best...

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Printed on: 06/02/2005


Topic author: GunnyG
Subject: Political Correctness At Its Best...
Posted on: 08/23/2003 08:07:11

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Southside Sentinel, August 22, 2003

Bestowing the greatest respect

To the Editor:

It has come to my attention that the Middlesex County Museum had the dedication stone in Puller Park inscribed with the word �soldier� in reference to Lieutenant General Chesty Puller, United States Marine Corps.

While I am greatly appreciative that Middlesex County, Virginia, has dedicated a park in honor of the famous U.S. Marine Corps General Chesty Puller in recognition of his contribution and service to this great country, to make reference to him as �soldier� is inappropriate and possibly even disrespectful, especially in light of this particular American legend.

The term �soldier� has routinely and historically been widely recognized and accepted as a reference to any member of the United States Army, with its own proud history, customs and courtesies.

Lt. General Chesty Puller and all others who have ever earned the distinctive title of being a United States �Marine� are appropriately referred to as �Marine,� not �soldier.� Referring to any member of the United States Marine Corps as �Marine� bestows the greatest respect possible. The title �Marine� carries with it, our own proud history, customs, and courtesies.

Middlesex Country has already dedicated a park to a man who deserves nothing less than all of gratitude and total respect, in all forms. I would suggest the county give serious consideration to correcting the dedication stone to accurately reflect General Puller�s military service affiliation and his heritage as a �Marine.� If doing so is constrained by fiscal limitations, I am confident that those of us who have served in his footsteps would assist as necessary to correct this situation.

Semper Fidelis!

CWO4 Steven E. Butland, USMC (Ret.)

He led �Marines�

To the Editor:

It has come to my attention that the memorial stone in Saluda for Chesty Puller indicates �Soldier.� No offense to the soldiers in the Army, but Chesty would roll over in his grave if he knew. He is thought of as a �Marine�s Marine,� winner of five Navy Crosses while leading �Marines.�

Although he was a �Soldier of the Sea,� I think the term Marine should be prominent on this memorial.

Terry Moore
Parkersburg, W.Va.

To the Editor:

I was stationed at the Marine Barracks, Naval Weapons Station, Yorktown, from 1971 through 1973. LtGen Lewis B. Puller USMC (Ret) lived in Saluda, which was about an hour away. Our installation was the closest Marine unit to the Puller home and thus we took care of military administrative matters and such for General and Mrs. Puller.

Sadly, while I was there, he died. Our unit, along with members of the ceremonial units from Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., and all the living commandants were at his funeral at Christ Church.

The barracks at Yorktown were later named Puller Hall.

During my time in the Corps (1958-1991) I learned of, or served with, many Marines. I don�t know of a single one in our Corps� list of real heroes that is better known than LtGen Puller.

While I have deep respect for many very fine Americans that served in the United States Army . . . and thus would bear the title �soldier,� I believe that General Puller deserves to be identified on his memorial marker stone in Saluda as �Marine.�

Would you identify a member of the Army as �sailor�? I didn�t think so. Please do the right thing.

Semper Fidelis.
LtCol William C. Curtis USMC (Ret)
Mission, Texas

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All design and content on these pages �Southside Sentinel 1997-2003

R.W. "Dick" Gaines
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Reply author: Bud Ralls
Replied on: 08/23/2003 08:14:58

Nice read, GunnyG. I hope who is in charge maybe will do the right thing. i guess there will be a lot of views on this......

The impossible is done with the Lord's
help and a few Marines!

Reply author: GunnyG
Replied on: 08/23/2003 08:19:26

quote:Originally posted by Bud Ralls

Nice read, GunnyG. I hope who is in charge maybe will do the right thing. i guess there will be a lot of views on this......

The impossible is done with the Lord's
help and a few Marines!

The right thing? Not likely--the herd mentality will likely prevail.

Despite the greatness of the Corps, individual Marines are indeed among the foremost liars, braggarts, and vain ignoramuses of the world. Again, I'm on the other side of this argument, as usual.

The plaque in question very clearly indicates LtGen Puller to be a Marine; in addition, there are words to indicate that he was a Patriot, Soldier, etc. Nothing wrong w/that in the context it was used.

R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
Gunny G's GLOBE and ANCHOR Sites & Forums
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Reply author: GunnyG
Replied on: 08/23/2003 08:23:41

(For those w/the eyes/ears for it...)

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Gunny G's!

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 G's.

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 inappropriate context.

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 another officer," -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 182)

The book, "Soldiers of the Sea: The U.S. Marine Corps," by Col Robert D. Heinl USMC (Ret.), Annapolis, 1962

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, Wash, DC
"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, finally, the more recent (2001) book,"Chesty The Story of Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller, USMC," by Jon T. Hoffman, LtCol USMCR, in which he named Chapter 1, "Making a Man and a Soldier" Genesis of a Marine.

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.

And so is the use of the term "soldier" valid? Yes, I think all of the above has shown that it is, but please consider this information within the context which I have presented it. At the same time, however, I agree that the use of that term has generally fallen out of use, but not altogether. It may be that its decline began at the end of WW II when the Marine Corps was fighting for it's continued existence when Congress, and the US Army, was seeking to severly cut back the size of the Corps and/or eliminate it altogether.

Marines are also very critical of Marines, and others, who use terms that were in use before their own time, or perhaps terms they never really understood in the first place, like ex-Marine, preferring "former Marine" in its place. In some cases, they even now consider certain terms to have been derogatory in nature, although not the case to begin with. These things come and go; Semper Fidelis was shortened to "Semper Fi" by WW II Marines--and it's meaning even replaced at that time. Many of today's Marines resent some of these terms mainly because they have little knowledge of the finer points of our own history, heritage and traditions, falling back onto whatever they now perceive to have been the truth of their Old Corps. Their present explanations, opinions and beliefs regarding many of these things are invalid. For those with the mind for it, there is much in the way of information on these topics on the Internet, books, etc. It's out there if anybody wishes to take the trouble to research and find it!

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 recruiting poster states, "Be a Marine!"

Res Ipsa Loquitur: ''The Thing Speaks For Itself''

Semper Fidelis
Dick Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
GyG's Old Salt Marines Tavern
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R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
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Reply author: Bud Ralls
Replied on: 08/23/2003 09:30:04

GunnyG: Just thinking, Soldiers- Marines-i just looked at your site and the old postor the recruiting postor ''Be a Marine''it tells a lot. do you know what yr. also what about '' Tomb of the unknown Soldier'' must be a Marine there i would think, in to days world they may some day use DNA, Who knows, all i know is a little knowledge is dangerous....

The impossible is done with the Lord's
help and a few Marines!

Reply author: Paladin
Replied on: 08/23/2003 16:24:14

I try my absolute best to stay out of these debates, always have. . .
I recall the Old recruiting poster "Soldiers of the Sea", I also recall numerous books written by U.S.Marines using the "General" Term Soldier. While I personally do correct many silly-villians, and inform thenm that I was/am a Marine NOT A Soldier! I do this NOT because I resent being called a Soldier, however, it is rather because they (the silly-villians) are quite easily confused about the matter and to my experience can rarely comprehend the difference between the U.S.M.C. and the army! On more than one occassion, I have been asked a question by one of these mental midgits, with the preface "Hey, you were in the army right? what . . ." It is at these times that I make the distinction very well know and educate the miscreant as to the proper manner in which to address a United States Marine! Other than these situations I generally do not have a problem with the "Term" Soldier. I believe that Problems such as this one arising from the resentment of other Marines, to the use of the "Term" Soldier on a memorial to Our Chesty, These situations could be averted if the silly-villians, would merely have the foresight to seek out the input of Marines and The U.S.M.C. Prior to acting on such plans. I do not know or claim to know if any attempt was made to do so in this case. . . If it was either it was deemed appropriate to use the "Term", or advise against it was ignored.
Personally I would like to see a correction made, however, I will not personally harbor any resentment if it is not. I am pleased to see this Great Hero Honored! I would prefer to focus on that and NOT quibble over semantics!

Reply author: GunnyG
Replied on: 08/23/2003 16:40:48

In this particular case, Gen Puller is very clearly identified as a Marine--in additional info on the plaque he is again referred to as Patriot, Soldier, etc. This would seem to me to be correct in the broader sense of the term--and not need any correction.

Further, in this particular case, it is my opinion, and my "opinion" only, that the lack of understanding lies on the part of those Marines doing the bitching. Also, in their own posts (elsewhere) they indicate that the plaque was in some sense approved by the Puller family previously.

Beyond that, I quite agree w/you that the idiots (media, etc) who out of hand refer to Marines as soldiers should be corrected--as should be the Marines who have no understanding of the term soldier used in its higher/broader sense.

The fact that this issue specifically is referenced in numerous books, etc. and from many years back seems to indicate that nobody has ever delved very deeply into Marine Corps history and traditions sufficienty to have any foreknowledge on this topic.

Therefore, I am not confident that any attempt to seek out the advice of Marines beforehand would have changed the situation, as you can see, many of the letters to the editor were from senior Marine officers!

I think my own first insight into the use of soldier in regard to Marines came from seeing the James Cagney flik, What Price Glory, early in 1952, when I first entered the Marine Corps, and wondered why the numerous references to Marines as soldiers in that movie; later finding the same in many books, etc. True, it has now (the term soldier) fallen out of common use by Marines, and hence the resentment by Marines when they do see it--whether rightly or wrongly used.

R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
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Reply author: KBar
Replied on: 08/23/2003 16:50:16

I think the thing we have to ask ourselves is: "Would Chesty b*tch about it?" For me, I think it's great that there's a place in this country that does honor him. Next time I'm in NJ, I'm going to check the place out.

I seldom correct anyone for using the term "soldier" when they inquire about my military service. They just don't know any better.

I do get question such as "you were in the Army or something?" quite a bit then I say "no. I was in the Marines".

I remember being on a plane with this Air Force geek (he was in civvies) when I was leaving Detroit to go to NAS Memphis. He kept talking to me like I was in the Army. Despite me wearing my Alphas, he didn't have any idea.

When we landed, he asked me some kind of "Army related question" and I said "I don't know. I was never in the Army". Then it hit him that I was in the Marines. This guy was a rock. I thought Air Force had the smart guys.

Reply author: GunnyG
Replied on: 08/23/2003 16:57:53

This plaque in question (not the gravestone nor gravesite) is located in Puller Park in Saluda, Virginia. Puller Park was recently dedicated a year or so ago.

Puller bitched about many things, but I have doubts that he would bitch about this (I could be wrong) because he was extremely well versed in military history.

In his bio, Marine, I recall that he had words quoted to him, where he was pissed over a recommendation for his silver star was downgraded by a rear-echelon pogue...and he bitched about may other things of like nature.

R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
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Reply author: KBar
Replied on: 08/23/2003 17:25:39

Oops, I saw Middlesex County and assumed it was NJ. My bad.

Reply author: PIzzaGuy
Replied on: 08/25/2003 05:27:21

To papaphrase something I read once, "Call a 5 start Army General Hey Soldier, The Chief of naval operations Hey Sailor or even the highest ranking Airdale General, Hey Airman would bring much recrimination, but to address The Commandant Of The Marine Corps as Hey MARINE would be a sign of respect.
I personally take offense at the term soldier, when used to refer to MARINES. I likewise, am offended when the term 'Ex-Marine of Former marine are used' Yes we are a touchy bunch. We have trained hard, fought hard and earned the title MARINE. Unlike soldier, sailor, airman, whose titles are given ;like Bronze Stars in their branches, the title MARINE is unique, earned and coveted.

Reply author: JBrown
Replied on: 08/25/2003 14:40:49

MOre than one fight has started by refering to a young Marine as Hey soldier.
When a civilian refers to my service as being a soldier I ask them why they are insulting me? I then tell them that I had to earn the title of U.S.Marine. soldiers just raise their hands and say I do.
They soon realise and rarely repeat their mistake.
I worked to damn hard for it to let somebody else belittle it in any way.

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On Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and...Marines!
by GyG (Login Dick Gaines)
Forum Owner

Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2003 04:33:48 -0700 (PDT)


Subject: Soldier

Sometime ago in a thread you argued vociferously
about the use of the term "Soldier." You were
correct by the way, at least in the way I
understand the use of that word to apply to
Marines. When I was a callow youth, in 1951, I
returned from Korea and was stationed at MB,
Shumaker, Arkansas. I commanded the Guard
Company, and did many other chores as any junior
officer does in a command that had only four
Marine officers. The base commander was a Navy
captain, and almost as new as I was to the

Anyway, I had occasion to report to the
Captain as the recorder of a Board of
Investigation. As I was under arms, I of course
saluted, made my report, saluted again,
about-faced and headed for the door. The Captain
stopped me and made several complimentary remarks
about my appearance and "Soldierly bearing." He
also used the term "Soldier" once or twice more
in referring to me. In my total ignorance, I was

Later that day I complained to the MC CO
about the base commander referring to me as a
"Soldier." My CO got a real chuckle out of my
complaint, and told me that instead of the
Captain demeaning me, he had instead paid me the
highest compliment possible. My CO was LtCol
Louis Nathaniel King, and had been a white hat in
1936 when he passed the exam for the Naval
Academy, graduated from there, and chose to enter
the MC. Of course, he, unlike myself, was steeped
in Naval traditions and knew all about the use of
the term "Soldier." On occasion I've referred to
other Marines as "Soldiers," always explaining
that was the highest compliment that I could call
them with our "Soldiers of the sea" origins. I'm
afraid that with the decline in Navy capital
ships, that the MC is loosing much of its naval
traditions since the chance of service as a
member of a Marine Detachment has undoubtedly
declined. We always said that: "A Marine was
everything of a Soldier, and half a Sailor too."

We also said that the reason that Marines were
kept embarked in Navy ships for thirty days prior
to a combat landing was that after thirty days on
one of those buckets that when you got off you
just had to kill someone. Wasn't really fair to
the Japanese, I suppose.

Please note that I
always capitalize "Soldiers," "Sailors," and
"Airmen." In my book they deserve the same
respect that I pay to my beloved Marines.

Semper Fidelis,
tientsin (Sully)

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Last edited by Dick Gaines on June 2nd, 2005, 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.