Yesterday morning I opened an email that contained a tribute to the United States Marine Corps on its 236th anniversary. I became emotionally distressed when I viewed and listened to the enclosed video. The images of training young men to be war machines, and of the former military actions they have been involved in over the decades, brought me to tears as I felt all the loss of humanity through war.
The video was a tribute to these human war machines through the ‘brotherhood’ of fighters. At the end of the video there was a list of all the battles, skirmishes, and actions the Marines have been a part of beginning with the American Revolutionary War. And to wrap it all up into a tidy presentation, of course there was the Marine Hymn – you know – the one that begins with “From the halls of Montezuma…”
I wondered why this music is called a hymn and I looked at the definition of a hymn. Briefly, this is what I found:
A song of praise or thanksgiving to God or a deity
A song of praise or joy; a paean (a joyous song or hymn of praise, tribute, thanksgiving, or triumph)
A song praising other gods, a nation, etc.
Then I researched the Marine Hymn. From this link – http://www.usmcpress.com/heritage/marine_hymn.htm – I read the following:
The U.S. Marine Corps is the United States’ military band of brothers dedicated to warfighting. The proud Brotherhood of Marines is guided by principles, values, virtues, love of country, and its Warrior Culture. This brotherhood of American Patriots has no song. Instead, Marine Warriors have a hymn. When The Marines’ Hymn is played, United States Marines stand at attention. They silently show their pride in their fellow Marines, their Corps, their Country, their heritage, and their hymn.
The Marines’ Hymn is a tribute to Warriors. Marine Warriors stormed fortress Derna, raised the American flag, and gave us “the shores of Tripoli.” Marines fought their way into the castle at Chapultepec and gave us the “halls of Montezuma.” Marines exist for the purpose of warfighting. Fighting is their role in life. They “fight for right and freedom” and “to keep our honor clean.” They fight “in the air, on land, and sea.” The Marine Corps is Valhalla for Warriors. U.S. Marines need no song. They have a hymn.
(Note: Valhalla is the afterlife “Hall of the Slain” where the Valkyries, the goddesses who decide who will die in battle, bring the dead.)
I guess I look forward to the day these warfighters become a dying breed, while keeping their other values, virtues, and love of country. I look forward to the day when there will be no need to have a brotherhood of this kind. A day when the energies associated with fighting are transformed into supporting all beings with compassion.