Semper Fi

Yesterday I was primarily involved in family matters related to the induction of Grandson Spencer into the U.S. Marines.  At the induction at the Henry Whipple Federal Building in Bloomington, the backdrop was this map of the world.  Spencer and about 20 others recited the oath of enlistment.

Ft. Snelling MN July 17, 2018

It was a powerful time, plenty of misty eyes (including my own), a rite of passage.  By evening Spencer was on the ground in San Diego and today he is finding out what boot camp is all about, thirteen weeks to go.  He’s got his head on straight, and I think it will go okay.  And I’m hoping we can be out there when he graduates into full Marine status in October.


I didn’t catch the sum and substance of the Trump-Putin dalliance until near 8 p.m. last night, and read about it this morning Not Just A Coincidence.

The exact same day my grandson took the oath, which includes to “obey the orders of the President of the United States”, that same President is completing a trip in which he has disgraced the United States of America.  If every other scintilla of evidence was identical, but the Presidents name was Obama, or Clinton, not Trump, I can imagine the howls of outrage today.


Preparing to take the Oath July 16, 2018; Spencer is off this picture, to the left, third row.


It perhaps seems odd that this writer, an anti-war Democrat who is a Vietnam-era Army veteran from a family full of military history, some of it tragic, should be, proudly, at an induction ceremony into the military for my own grandson.

Not so at all.  I was there for Spencer’s pre-induction a year ago, at the same facility.  He had decided on his own that he wanted to be a Marine, and has spent the last year of high school in preparation for the very hard work beginning today.

There are very few who now enter military service.  Possibly one percent of the American population is active military.  Spencer’s Dad, who graduated from high school in the late 1980s, when asked, remembered only about five of the 300 who graduated with him who actually went into the service.

All three of we Bernard brothers were military – two career officers in the Air Force (I volunteered for the Draft, in Jan. 1962, to get the obligation over with).  But being an enlisted man in an Army Infantry company preparing for Vietnam was a great plenty of relevant background for me.

My Dad’s only brother died on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor; four of the five men from the North Dakota section of land on which my mother grew up, two brothers and two cousins, were military in WWII or Korea.  The fifth boy was needed on the farm.

So, this day, as true for many years, I am both in the Veterans for Peace and also the American Legion.

And I can go to a military induction and be very, very proud of a Grandson who’s made a big commitment, and wish him success, and most especially a career that does not involve war.

Grandson and Daughter after the induction ceremony July 16, 2017

I’ll long remember two events after the induction.  The first was the handover of the iPhone…no such distractions at boot camp.  The second was the little book which Mom gave to son.  “What’s that?”, I asked.  “A Bible”, and gave it to me to sign, my signatures joining others.

Congratulations, Spencer.  Safe return.  All my very, very best.

Next event for me, the Veterans for Peace National Conference, Twin Cities, August 22-26, 2018.  Then the Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg College September 13-15.


from Carole: Thank you for this, Dick.  I am part of a transitional generation — from a family with a proud military history — to a mother of two non-military sons, both of whom understand the dangers inherent in our current circumstances.

I abhor war, but I understand defense. I hope that those who follow the path into military service will be wise and generous.
Congratulations to your grandson — may he defend the good, and always be  safe.
from Georgine: In this picture, one can see Great Uncle Frank in him.  Best to him, and may he thrive.
from Carl: Congratulations! Marines are a tuff bunch of guys.
from Jeff:  It will be a long 13 weeks, it hasn’t gotten any easier.

from Barry:  Sounds like he knows what he wants to do and am sure he is honorable in his desire to serve his country. Too bad it is under the likes of Trump and company. Hope he will find something of benefit from his service and not come out of it too badly damaged. 

See you at the [Vets For Peace] convention Aug 22nd to 26th. Be sure and spread the word.  NOTE: Barry is a Vietnam Vet and a great person for whom I have the utmost respect.

from Greg:  Yet another great post, my friend.

Your first task is to run, not walk, to your nearest public library to check out a copy of, Eat The Apple, a book written by Matt Young in which he chronicles his three-year enlistment in the USMC.  Of course he devotes much of the book to his first thirteen weeks, in basic.  Quite graphic in parts so it is up to you to decide whether to share with your daughter.
Matt survived several deployments in “sand land” and upon discharge attended college earning a M.A. in literature and is now a college professor in creative writing.   .
Second, if you and the Marine’s parents concur I would appreciate knowing Spencer’s full name and mail address so that I might drop him a message from time to time.  Promise I will be on my best behavior.
Of course I will keep the lad in my daily prayers.
from Mel: You should be proud, the young man will meet many new thins and a wide cross section of people and see many new places.  I joined the Air Force as a Cadet but not get past third class and washed out so instead of accepting a Commission I was discharged.  My friends and neighbors picked me out for the draft and so back into uniform for me.  I was offered a commission again but opted to get out after 18 months which turned into 24 months at the benevolence of Harry [Truman?] at which time I became a staunch Republican.
Response from Dick: Of course, I’m proud.


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