Today marks the 240th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Here in Philadelphia, on November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing the Continental Marines. Since that time, Marines have distinguished themselves defending our freedoms. During my 33-year Navy career I had the privilege of serving with the Marine Corps for almost one-third of that time. Tomorrow we also recognize all of our veterans as we celebrate Veterans Day. World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of World War I. Originally designated Armistice Day by President Wilson, November 11 commemorates the armistice that began that day. In 1954 Congress changed the name to Veterans Day to recognize all veterans.
While I was on active duty I paid little attention to the observance of the Navy and Marine Corps birthdays and Veterans Day other than to enjoy a nice social event and a day off. Now, as a retired Navy veteran I find myself thinking of these days a bit differently. I have been reflecting on how lucky we all are to have men and women who, everyday make sacrifices to ensure we continue to enjoy the freedoms we have. They do this while being held to the highest of standards, both professionally and morally. Their core values of honor, courage and commitment have been the moral and ethical compass that has guided them for 240 years.
As healthcare professionals we have much in common with those who serve in our armed forces. We too have made a commitment to devote our time and energies to serve others. Most importantly, though, as healthcare professionals we also must be guided by an ethical and moral compass – one that emulates that of our Navy and Marine Corps – that of honor, courage and commitment.
So, as we celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday today and take time to honor our veterans tomorrow (and I hope every day) I also hope that we reflect on how we can leverage our own commitment to always conduct ourselves with honor and have the courage to always do what’s right for our patients.
If you see someone in uniform or if you know someone who is a veteran, please take the time to thank them for their service while I thank you for your service and commitment to helping others! Semper Fi!