Monday, November 29, 2010

The Iwo Jima Creed

In one of my past commentaries here, I stated that the American military would inevitably accept the service of LGBT persons. It now appears that only the U.S. Marine Corps is still resisting this decision. I recently found, courtesy of author Robert Coram, evidence that some Marines do "get this." In his new biography of Victor "Brute" Krulak, Coram included the following sermon given by Rabbi Gittelsohn (5th Marine Division) at the Jewish memorial service conducted on the island of Iwo Jima in the battle's aftermath.

Here lie men who loved America because their ancestors generations ago helped in her founding, and other men who loved her with equal passion because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores. Here lie officers and men, Negroes and whites, rich men and poor...together. Here are Protestants, Catholics and Jews together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many from each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men, there is no discrimination. No prejudices. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy...

Whosever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or who thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery. To this, then, as our solemn duty, sacred duty do we the living now dedicate ourselves: to the right of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, of white men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price.

We here solemnly swear that this shall not be in vain. Out of this and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere.

Semper Fidelis