WASHINGTON – The beginning of a famous U.S. Marine Corps marching cadence says quite simply: “If I die on a combat zone, patch me up and send me home – Tell my girl I’ve done my best…..” Well, this is what the tough, rugged, perhaps mythologized US Marines sing while they run to build strength and endurance: “If I die, I die with a clear conscience, because I know I’ve done my best”.
Honor, Courage, Country
Yes, this is about elite soldiers: “The Few, the Proud, the Marines“. And all the recruiting TV commercials portray a life of constant endeavor where “Honor” is the guiding light and “Courage” is the fuel that sustains the effort. And all this is to protect “Country“: our Commonwealth, our United States of America.
You never quit
In the end, it is all so simple. Guided by a simple moral principle –Honor– we should summon all our strength –Courage– to protect our society –Country.
And one more thing: “You never quit. Because, if you quit today, you’ may become a quitter”.
In the end, what is required is that you remain a person of integrity, and that you do your job seriously –because you really mean to do the best you can. If these conditions are met, then you are OK, because “You’ve done your best“.
Whatever your material accomplishments, you have really tried. No, you did not quit mid-course, because it was too hard to try. Failure is alright. However, not trying your best is not alright.
The spirit of the Frontier
In a different but related context, the real actors in the incredible experience of the American Frontier, the Westward expansion of the United States of America, were mostly inexperienced people who went into the vast unknown with very little knowledge, no expertise about the world they were entering, very few tools, but a lot of courage.
They pursued a dream of a new home, some farmland, a new life. They were not soldiers, but they were gutsy and determined people. Most of them did their best in their attempts to overcome huge obstacles and unexpected hardships.
And still today your heart is stirred when you watch an old Western movie and an actor like John Wayne shouts: “Wagons Ho!”– and you see the caravan of covered wagons beginning to move West, into the great adventure.
“Wagons Ho, America”
America is supposed to be a combination of lofty principles and an irrepressible “can do” spirit. The benign assumption is that our actions must lead to goodness, because our values are good.
Well, it does not always turn out this way, we know that. We do make mistakes. Many mistakes.
Still, while we acknowledge our imperfections, it would be more than enough if all us could say, at the end of each day, and with a clear conscience “I’ve done my best”.
We do not have to be U.S. Marines to do strive for that. Indeed, let’s do our best.
“Wagons Ho, America!”