You Can Give Your Heart To Jesus, But Your Ass Belongs To The Marines

The photos on the cover page of yesterday's NY Times of Marines, coffins, and grieving friends and family left me with this thought: I'm glad it's the Marines who are in the thick fighting right now. They're the only service who made it through the late seventies/early eighties without having to deal with all those nasty disciplinary problems that plagued the military after Vietnam. The why of it was simple: they were The Marines. And that first shot on yesterday's Times, you see one of those white cardboard coffins marked "HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE" rolling off the plane, and a small detachment of Marines is receiving it at attention...well, you could have the exact same shot in Army green, and it wouldn't have the same effect.

I guess I was so aroused by the shot because the Marines don't dishonor their dead by being un-martial/unmanly. It's that tradition-filled ordo salutis characteristic of all the old, elite units, paraphrased in Full Metal Jacket: "Most of you will go to Vietnam; some of you will not come back. But you will never die, because the Marine Corps never dies."

That is, surely, a disservice to many Marines, who wouldn't actually believe it. But for a pagan, it's the virile bronze-headed spear sort of paganism that can be truly moving.