Worth reposting

This was sent to me this morning in an e-mail to the Battalion Staff. I am not normaly the Gungy Ooh Rah type, I have not been for a few years. But I thought this was a pretty good letter written by a young Marine Corps Officer. Filed under appreciation.

Commentary: An Open Letter to Code PinkBy Richard Lund

While the protest that you staged in front of my office on Wednesday, Sept. 26th, was an exercise of your constitutional rights, the messages that you left behind were insulting, untrue, and ultimately misdirected. Additionally, from the comments quoted in the Berkeley Daily Planet article, it is clear that you have no idea what it is that I do here. Given that I was unaware of your planned protest, I was unable to contest your claims in person, so I will therefore address them here.
First, a little bit about who I am: I am a Marine captain with over eight years of service as a commissioned officer. I flew transport helicopters for most of my time in the Marine Corps before requesting orders to come here. Currently, I am the officer selection officer for the northern Bay Area. My job is to recruit, interview, screen, and evaluate college students and college graduates that show an interest in becoming officers in the Marine Corps. Once they’ve committed to pursuing this program, I help them apply, and if selected, I help them prepare for the rigors of Officer Candidate School and for the challenges of life as a Marine officer. To be eligible for my programs, you have to be either a full-time college student or a college graduate. I don’t pull anyone out of school, and high school students are not eligible.

I moved my office to Berkeley in December of last year. Previously, it was located in an old federal building in Alameda. That building was due to be torn down and I had to find a new location. I choose our new site because of its proximity to UC Berkeley and to the BART station. Most of the candidates in my program either go to Cal or to one of the schools in San Francisco, the East Bay, or the North Bay. Logistically, the Shattuck Square location was the most convenient for them.

Next, you claim that I lie. I have never, and will never, lie to any individual that shows an interest in my programs. I am upfront with everything that is involved at every step of the way and I go out of my way to ensure that they know what to expect when they apply. I tell them that this is not an easy path. I tell them that leading Marines requires a great deal of self-sacrifice. I tell them that, should they succeed in their quest to become a Marine officer, they will almost certainly go to Iraq. In the future, if you plan to attack my integrity, please have the courtesy to explain to me specifically the instances in which you think that I lied.

Next, scrawled across the doorway to my office, you wrote, “Recruiters are Traitors.” Please explain this one. How exactly am I a traitor? Was I a traitor when I joined the Marine Corps all those years ago? Is every Marine, therefore, a traitor? Was I a traitor during my two stints in Iraq? Was I a traitor when I was delivering humanitarian aid to the victims of the tsunami in Sumatra? Or do you only consider me a traitor while I am on this job? The fact is, recruitment is and always has been a part of maintaining any military organization. In fact, recruitment is a necessity of any large organization. Large corporations have employees that recruit full-time. Even you, I’m sure, must expend some effort to recruit for Code Pink. So what, exactly, is it that makes me a traitor?

The fact is this: any independent nation must maintain a military (or be allied with those who do) to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. Regardless of what your opinions are of the current administration or the current conflict in Iraq, the U.S. military will be needed again in the future. If your counter-recruitment efforts are ultimately successful, who will defend us if we are directly attacked again as we were at Pearl Harbor? Who would respond if a future terrorist attack targets the Golden Gate Bridge, the BART system, or the UC Berkeley clock tower? And, to address the most hypocritical stance that your organization takes on its website, where would the peace keeping force come from that you advocate sending to Darfur?

Finally, I believe that your efforts in protesting my office are misdirected. I agree that your stated goals of peace and social justice are worthy ones. War is a terrible thing that should only be undertaken in the most dire, extreme, and necessary of circumstances. However, war is made by politicians. The conflict in Iraq was ordered by the president and authorized by Congress. They are the ones who have the power to change the policy in Iraq, not members of the military. We execute policy to the best of our ability and to the best of our human capacity. Protesting in front of my office may be an easy way to get your organization in the headlines of local papers, but it doesn’t further any of your stated goals.

To conclude, I don’t consider myself a “recruiter.” I am a Marine who happens to be on recruiting duty. As such, I conduct myself in accordance with our core values of honor, courage, and commitment. I will never sacrifice my honor by lying to anyone that walks into my office. I will never forsake the courage that it takes to restrain myself in the face of insulting and libelous labels like liar and traitor. And, most importantly, I will never waver from my commitment to helping individuals who desire to serve their country as officers in the Marine Corps.

Captain Richard Lund is the United States Marine Corps’ officer selection officer for the northern Bay Area.


gniz said...

That letter was awesome.

Glad you posted it.


oxeye said...

jordan - I'm sure the captain is not a liar, and he might have been technically correct when he said he was interested only in college students, but Berkeley High School had been fighting with the recruiters for years about High School student access.

Berkeley High was the last HS in America to give in to the Nation's recruiting laws when it finally changed its policy this spring. The military had been pressuring them for years to go along with the federal law giving them access to student's names and numbers.

BHS didn't want to do it unless individual students themselves asked them to. The Feds threatened to withdraw federal money for the school unless administrators gave in and turned over all the names. That's when the school finally gave them what they wanted. That's the way I heard it anyway..

SlowZen said...

Thanks for stopping in, glad you appreciated the post.

The Captain is an Officer Selection Officer, so he would not be interested in gaining access to High School lists… On the other hand I was on recruiting duty for the enlisted side and had schools that did not offer lists or decent access. It was a setback but not a show stopper. But I echo his sentiments. The Marines have a reputation for not offering people a rose garden. By and large the majority of Marines I have known are honest with their applicants. There is a good reason for this. We survive on word of mouth and reputation. The Marine Corps doses not have a budget like the other services do. We rely on the community to help us make our recruiting mission, when word gets out that a recruiter has been dishonest or unethical with his applicants they are dealt with rather harshly, because when a Marine Recruiter screws up it can affect the Marine Corps reputation in an area for years.

In recruiting we stress the intangible benefits of service in the world’s most elite fighting force: Leadership, Courage, Poise, Self Confidence, and Pride of Belonging. Yes there are bennies too, but I told my kids (recruits) we are here to be warriors first. You don’t join the Marines for college benefits. You join the Marines to be a Marine…

Sorry if that sounded like a rant, I did not care for recruiting duty. But I know well the long hours and hard work it takes to be successful.

Thank you for your comments,
Be well and happy!

Carol said...

Awesome Jordan! So glad you posted the letter! I'm tempted to copy and send it on to others!

And I'm very, very proud to be the mother of a U.S. Marine!

Semper Fi!


gniz said...

As i've stated recently to friends, if it werent for people who serve in the military, willing to kill if necessary, I would not be able to be the complete wimp that i am...
So i am indeed grateful to people that serve, regardless of whether or not i agree with their politics or even the war we are fighting in particular.
I am protected enough that i can live an incredibly safe, pacifist lifestyle.

gniz said...

BTW, re-reading my post above, it seems a bit glib to me now.
The basic sentiment is gratitude to those who are willing to, or have to, fight to survive.


SlowZen said...

Mom, Thanks! Love you!

I appreciate the glibness!

Thank you again,

Yamakoa said...

That was a well written and thought provoking letter. I for one am thankful for all the sacrifices that the members of the armed forces make so that we may enjoy all the freedoms that accord with our society. What is truly distasteful is the way our country is repaying our wounded brothers in combat. Thousands of our brethren all falling through the beaucratic gaps and not recieving the care they need. I know the logistics in taking care of our wounded must be enormous, but if we are committed to putting our soldiers in harms way, then we must be resolute in taking care of them when they return with the terrible afflictions of war. I am done for now.
Stephen Batechlor wrote a fine article on the relationship between the veil of security that the military provides and our ability to practice our religion/s.
Thanks, Semper Filius

SlowZen said...

Yamakoa, Thank you for the kind words of support.

Did you mean to say Semper Fidelis?
(allways faithfull, the Marines Motto)
Or really Semper filius; my best guess at lattin meaning allways my sibling, if the latter I am so flattered!


Thanks for looking!