History | 11 November 2015Personal Reflections from a Medal of Honor Recipient Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Veterans Day is a time when America pauses to remember the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served in the armed forces to protect our country. Though we are grateful for their service, it’s hard for many of us to imagine what our veterans have experienced during their time serving our country. Thanks to Noble Warrior: The Story of Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, USMC (Ret.), Medal of Honor, you can hear about combat experiences and the personal perspective of a distinguished military leader and Medal of Honor recipient. Veterans have a unique view of military services and the direction America is headed. This Veterans Day, take the time to hear the personal reflections of Major General James E. Livingston in this excerpt from Noble Warrior. The Patriotism of Service Members photo credit: Old Glory via photopin (license) There are many great things related to military service. Certainly there are hardships. Separations from families, dangers inherent to the job, and low pay when compared to the private sector have always been obstacles to maintaining a voluntary career military force. Once service members complete their contracts and finish their college educations, most would move on to graduate school or better paying jobs. Th at is human nature, and if you have a family to feed, completely understandable. However, what I have witnessed in the last few years is higher than normal reenlistments, albeit supported by the stop-loss program. These young men and women, 95 percent coming from the lower echelon of the working class, remained on active duty to serve their country even when they had the option to leave. Why would a young Marine making $23,000 a year remain in uniform, hoping to get a promotion and a slight pay increase, when he could carry that experience over into a civilian job making twice the income? The answer is patriotism, pure and simple. If our politicians, who make ten times that amount and do ten times less work, with zero risk and threat to their beings, cannot learn from our young warriors, then I believe we have greater problems than just a divided nation and terrorists knocking on the door. What It Takes to Become a Marine Livingston with his Medal of Honor.Photo Credit: Noble Warrior Many people wonder what it takes to become a Marine. Those who have not been Marines, but may have known Marines, probably have a basic understanding of the patriotism and discipline required. They probably also understand that stamina, attention to detail, cognitive thinking, and problem solving are part of the training regimen. However, for those who have not been Marines, there is much more than simple military discipline and training. Unlike most other branches of the military, the Marine Corps does not make a man or woman. We recruit them and make them better men and women. The Marines do not simply create warriors. We screen, select, and choose those whom we wish to invite into our ranks. We finely tune the inherent nature of the American fighting spirit, add discipline, increase stamina, and build what we Marines call esprit de corps. As the commercial ad campaign states: “We don’t accept applications. Only commitments.” Marines do not search the want ads. They search their souls, and if deemed worthy and are accepted, they join a long, honored tradition of men and women who have made history and preserved our nation. Also, a Marine is not just a warrior; he is an exceptional warrior. There are four primary factors that separate a Marine from all other human beings on the planet. Discipline, which is unyielding and second nature. Duty to the Corps and duty to our country, which simply put is duty above oneself, working for the collective good as a member of a team. Honor, which is such a simple word, but one that carries much meaning to a Marine. Honor is life, and without it, a Marine has no purpose and our nation has no future. When a Marine gives his word, he keeps it. When a Marine accepts an assignment, he completes it. Failure is never an option. Finally, respect. Marines are respectful, polite, and courteous, even when in the company of the enemy. We have a great record of being humane when the situation calls for it, despite our fighting reputation. When a Marine fights for his nation and his friends, it is to the death of his enemy. Retreat and surrender are not parts of our operational paradigm. Marines are the best-known, most respected, and, likewise, the most feared group of American military fighting men in the world for a good reason. We love our country, God, and our fellow Marines with whom we serve. We do not leave our wounded or dead behind if we can avoid it. We do not hesitate to follow orders, and above all, we do not and will not hesitate to risk death or make that ultimate sacrifice to save our fellow Marines. Every Marine knows that no matter where he may be in the world, or how dark that situation may be, he is never alone and never will be alone. The Significance of Military Service Colonel Livingston as regimental CO of 6th Marines.Photo Credit: Noble Warrior The moment you fail to control the battlefield, you have started down the path to defeat. Imagine driving a car to a destination, and you are in complete control over the machine. Now imagine you throw that steering wheel out the window and just go along for the ride. That is the difference of controlling a situation to direct an outcome, and being an observer just hoping for the best. We cannot be observers; we must be active direction controllers in every case. Never allow your enemy to control the direction of the fight, and that includes the enemy in the field and the enemy in Washington. Victory is earned, not given. In our current war, we cannot show mercy as in the past. Our enemies do not even know what that word means. The sacrifices of over four thousand of our military brothers and sisters, who have given their lives to protect us at home and assist others abroad, maintain the momentum and strengthen our resolve to see through the completion of our mission statement. It is the U.S. Navy that still patrols hostile seas, protecting international shipping and thwarting terrorism and piracy at sea. It is the U.S. Army that maintains large occupation forces and logistical supply networks, supporting all the services as needed. It is the U.S. Air Force, with its great aerial strength, that secures the skies, protecting our warriors on the battlefield. And, last but not least, it is our Marines who are the first in, forging a path for others to follow, bearing the brunt of whatever our enemies have to off er. It is no doubt a daunting task, but one which they have accomplished before and shall successfully execute in the future. Marines know nothing else. Learn more about Major General James E. Livingston’s view on his military experiences in Noble Warrior, from Zenith Press. Noble Warrior: The Story of Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, USMC (Ret.), Medal of Honor Major General James E. Livingston’s remarkable life and career is recounted in a book that has it all: exciting first-person eyewitness account of historic battle; the history of the development of tactics and strategies used in today’s war on terror; and a compelling story of leadership in action and individual courage in combat. 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