Marine recruits from 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Company L , about to begin their graduation ceremony from boot camp, remain under their drill instructor's watchful eye at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. — Nelvin C. Cepeda
Today, the Union Tribune launches a new tradition. Each Jan. 1, we will honor the Person of the Year, an individual or category of individuals with San Diego ties.
We can think of no better way to begin this tradition than by selecting as our first winner the Marine. Since Sept. 11, 2001, America has relied on the Marine to keep us safe from terror at home and to take the fight to our enemies abroad, a task our Marines have handled with immense courage, professionalism and honor. Some of the 56,000 Marines based in San Diego County — the West Coast hub for Marine ground and air forces — have served a half-dozen or more tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. Their sacrifices, and those of all the other military personnel based in our county, have been enormous.
Some have died, some have suffered horrific injuries, some are wounded in less-obvious ways. The Marine’s family also has borne a huge burden.
Yet the Marine perseveres, caring for loved ones, protecting our nation and demonstrating the wisdom of Marine Commandant Charles McCawley’s 1883 decision to make “semper fidelis” — Latin for “always faithful” — the Marine Corps motto. When not defending this nation abroad, the Marine is our neighbor, our friend, our children’s coach, our school’s supporter, a welcome, constructive and beloved member of our community.
The U-T is far from alone in its admiration. “Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem,” President Ronald Reagan wrote in a letter to a young Marine about to deploy on a dangerous mission. We couldn’t agree more.
In recognition of all the Marine has done for San Diego, for the United States and for the cause of freedom, the U-T salutes the Marine, our 2011 Person of the Year. Semper fi