Semper Fi

by Michael Walsh

They say there’s no such thing as an ex-Marine, and is that ever true. Growing up in San Diego, where my USMC officer father was stationed in the 1950s and early ’60s, one of my most vivid memories is seeing him and my mother heading off to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball every Nov. 10 — her as glamorous as a movie star and him resplendent in his dress blues, red cummerbund and ceremonial sword. We lived among civilians, and I can remember the stares from the other kids in the neighborhood as they went out — nobody else’s parents looked like that, even if it was only once a year.

Of course, he earned those Captain’s bars, and his later ranks, at the Pusan Perimeter, the Inchon Landing, the Battle of Seoul, and the Chosin Reservoir, among other duty stations. Now he’s down in Florida with my mother, two Boston Irish-Catholic kids who fled and never went back, but this day remains as special to them as it was back then. 

Semper Fi, Dad. That’s a motto you never had trouble living up to. 

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