Skip to comments.Puller Park To Change Memorial Stone For "Chesty" Puller
Posted on 08/29/2003 4:51:38 AM PDT by gunnyg
Puller Park will get new memorial stone; fund established to pay for it
by Larry S. Chowning
A new stone honoring Lt. General Lewis B. (Chesty) Puller will be placed at the Lewis Puller Memorial Park in Saluda, and it wont include the term soldier in describing the most decorated U.S. Marine in history.
The park was dedicated last year and is sponsored by the Middlesex County Museum. It is located across the street from the museum on Business Route 17 in Saluda.
The words across the bottom of the current stone that honors LtGen Puller reads: Patriot, Proud American, Soldier. The use of the word soldier on the stone is inaccurate, contend many Marines, and many have called for the word to be removed.
In a nationwide effort, Marines have emailed Middlesex County and museum officials and the editor of the Southside Sentinel calling for the word soldier to be taken off the stone. Many have offered to help pay for a new stone.
The Marines point out that the U.S. Marines are a branch of the U.S. Navy and soldier is a word usually associated with the U.S. Army. Also, the Marines contend, a soldier is someone who carries a gun on his shoulder and is an enlisted man.
Marine (Ret.) Bob Means of Urbanna has led the effort to have the stone replaced. Means said he met with Middlesex County Museum president Mavis Mangum last week and they agreed the Marines would purchase a new stone to replace the one currently at the park. Means said he has already ordered the new stone, which will have the word Soldier replaced with Marine.
The new stone will cost $1,466, all of which will be paid through donations, said Means.
It will be absolutely no cost to the museum, Means emphasized. We want everyone to know that the Marines across the nation appreciate what the museum has done to create a beautiful park to honor the greatest Marine of all time.
Mangum had earlier noted that before the current stone was installed at the park last year she had members of the Third Marine Division in Northern Virginia approve the verbiage. She also said Pullers daughters and their husbands, both Marines, also approved the words on the stone. However, she said it would not be a problem from the museums standpoint to have the word removed.
The Marines have set up a fund to pay for the stone. Means said any Marine or anyone else wishing to contribute can do so my sending a check to: Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Puller Detachment, Marine Corp League No. 890, 3043 Rivermont Drive, Front Royal, VA 22630. Make the check payable to Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Puller Detachment and mention that the funds are for the Puller memorial stone, he said.
Means said he believes more funds will be collected than will be needed to pay for the stone. The extra funds will be used to enable families to visit Marines who are hospitalized due to serious injuries suffered in Operation Iraqi Freedom, he said. These young men are still far from home and away from their family members, who do not have enough money to come and visit. We are going to use the extra money to enable these families to visit. I think Chesty Puller would want that.
Means also noted some excess funds may be donated to Toys for Tots.
I have no problems with changing the word to "Marine", but even Marines know the difference between "gun" and "weapon" or "rifle". And Army officers are also "soldiers". GEN Omar Bradley was called "the soldier's soldier", which is high praise, indeed.
Let's just say that that sentence could have been put together a bit better than it was.
Marines' sites and bulletin boards on the Internet are nothing short of amazing regarding what many do not know about Marine Corps history and traditions. There are numerous cases where Marines--some of them even senior enlisted Marines and officers--post and respond to downright erroneous information demonstrating a definite lack of knowledge on various topics of Marine Corps interest. I have addressed several of these individual topics elsewhere on Gunny G's.
Perhaps, some independent study would be in order--better start at the top.
One random example, among many I have noticed, are several items lately where Marines are lambasting someone or other on the subject of one's having dared to refer to a Marine, or Marines, using the term "soldier."
With righteous indignation they scream that they are Marines, not soldiers, and they decry those who call them such! And rightfully so, in some cases, where the media or an individual, whatever, is using that term within an inappropriate context.
Of course, they (both the writer and the Marine) are acting out of their own lack of knowlege. The user of the term "soldier" is not aware that he should generally refer to all Marines as "Marines"; and the Marine is very likely ignorant of the fact that the word "soldier" is also correct, in some cases.
Members of our sister-service, for example, the U.S. Army, are soldiers, that is their name, but Marines are not soldiers in that sense at all. I am referring to Marines as soldiers in a much broader, higher sense, as a class of soldier that goes to the root of what a Marine is and does.
Reminds me of an oft-times repeated story of a U.S. Army major visiting the wounded in a WWI French hospital in 1918. As the story goes, the major asked a young soldier if he was indeed an American. "No sir," he replied, "I'm a Marine." (Ref US Marine Corps In World war I 1917-1918, Osprey, by Henry/Pavlovic, 1999) Such it is that Marines have always exemplified the inherent pride in their identity as a member of the MarineCorps.
But, many Marines seem to be unaware of the fact that the Marine Corps itself, as well as individual Marines, has long referred with pride to themselves as soldiers. To be sure, we are, each of us, a United States Marine, that is our TITLE, earned and claimed by us all as the capstone of that which we are. But somewhere within that coveted title lies the soldier referred to in the following examples.
One dictionary defines the word Marine as, an infantry soldier associated with a navy. No doubt there are many references to the Royal Marines as soldiers back through history. But we need not go back that far. Our own U.S. Marine Corps has a long listing of examples supporting the notion of Marines as soldiers.
A U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Service poster, dated May 1866, announces that it is seeking MEN for its ranks; it then goes on to refer to such recruits as SOLDIERS no less than six times, and not once using the word Marine or Marines! (Ref the book, The Marines, by Simmons/Moskin, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, 1998)
And there is the USMC Recruiting Poster of more recent vintage, shown at the top of this page. And, in the book, Marine Corps Book of Lists, by Nofi, Combined Publishing, 1997, the following.
"The Marines are both soldiers and sailors, a part of the sea services." (Page 154)
"Some Marine Wisdom on Soldiering" 'To be a sergeant, you have to show your stuff. I'd rather be an outstanding sergeant than just another officer," -GySgt Dan Daly (Page 159)
"Soldiers trained in the ways of the sea," -CMC, BGen Benjamin H. Fuller, c. 1934 (Page 181)
"A Dozen Nicknames For Marines" 2. "The Soldiers of the Sea, a traditional term for Marines dating back at least to the seventeenth century." (Page 180)
"The finest soldier any captain could wish to have," said of Dan Daly by BGen W.P. Upshur (Page 182)
The book, "Soldiers of the Sea: The U.S. Marine Corps," by Col Robert D. Heinl USMC (Ret.), Annapolis, 1962
The play, (and later, two films) "What Price Glory," by Andersen/Shillings, 1926, has numerous references to Marines as soldiers.
"He turned down the gold bars of a second lieutenant. 'I'm a plain soldier,' he said, 'and I want to stay one.'" -GySgt John Basilone (Ref John Basilone --Italian-American Hero www.cimorelli.com/pie/heroes/basilone.htm)
Chapter XX, page 69,The United States Marine Corps in the World War, by Major Edwin N. McClellan, USMC,1920, Historical Branch, HQMC, Wash, DC
"In recent years the Marine Corps has devoted a great deal of time and energy to rifle practice, believing that one of the first requirements of a soldier is to know how to shoot...."
And, finally, the more recent (2001) book,"Chesty The Story of Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller, USMC," by Jon T. Hoffman, LtCol USMCR, in which he named Chapter 1, "Making a Man and a Soldier" Genesis of a Marine.
And many more references can be found, but suffice to say, for the purpose of my little spiel here, that these few examples should establish that the use of "soldier" was long commonly in use in the Corps.
And so is the use of the term "soldier" valid? Yes, I think all of the above has shown that it is, but please consider this information within the context which I have presented it. At the same time, however, I agree that the use of that term has generally fallen out of use, but not altogether. It may be that its decline began at the end of WW II when the Marine Corps was fighting for it's continued existence when Congress, and the US Army, was seeking to severly cut back the size of the Corps and/or eliminate it altogether.
Marines are also very critical of Marines, and others, who use terms that were in use before their own time, or perhaps terms they never really understood in the first place, like ex-Marine, preferring "former Marine" in its place. In some cases, they even now consider certain terms to have been derogatory in nature, although not the case to begin with.
These things come and go; Semper Fidelis was shortened to "Semper Fi" by WW II Marines--and it's meaning even replaced at that time. Many of today's Marines resent some of these terms mainly because they have little knowledge of the finer points of our own history, heritage and traditions, falling back onto whatever they now perceive to have been the truth of their Old Corps.
Their present explanations, opinions and beliefs regarding many of these things are invalid. For those with the mind for it, there is much in the way of information on these topics on the Internet, books, etc. It's out there if anybody wishes to take the trouble to research and find it!
The U. S. Marine Corps has a long and glorious history. There is no need to be "touchy" as to being referred to as a soldier, even when the person speaking is not totally aware of all involved in the fact he is alluding to.
Rather, be yourself informed of what is so and what isn't, through your own research and studies. Nor is it of any benefit to deride those of other services, as is a common practice-- doing so merely reveals your own ignorance, and it belittles our Corps.
As one old recruiting poster states, "Be a Marine!"
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
GyG's Old Salt Marines Tavern
Sites & Forums
BUMP for the correction of a typo and a good cause. I've contacted the local branch of the Marine Corps League that meets at my VFW post with this info.
(And as a proud former squid, I feel compelled to add "Most of them can read") ;)
Most will roll over in the face of a mail/news campaign against them just to get them off their backs--no matter the demands are founded on facts or ignorance. In this case, General Puller was clearly identified as a United States Marine on the stone in question. Additionally, he was indicated to be a Patriot, Soldier, etc.
This was not a case where some newsman in a printed article, or someone on the street had erroneously referred to a Marine as a Soldier. The term was obviously used in its broader, higher sense when used in reference to a Marine.
I wonder if the original stonecutter was an ex-squid?
Worthy cause BUMP - forwarded article to local Marine Corps League branch.
I went into the latrine and changed from my nomex and SPH4 flight helmet into my class A uniform complete with maroon beret, two sets of wings, expert marksman badge, Fourragere, bloused jumpboots, etc. I walked into the waiting room where two Gunnies were sitting waiting for the same aircraft as myself.
One spotted me, nudged the other and said, "They must be getting ready to board us, there's the doorman." That comment took my young, fancy uniform inflated ego down a peg. ;-)