Marine Down; #Occupy Oakland

Corporal rank insignia for the United States M...

Corporal, USMC; Image via Wikipedia

The United States Marine Corps has a history of honour and self sacrifice stemming from its origin as an elite team of specialized snipers deployed on naval vessels in the eighteenth century, to its participation in every major conflict in which the US government has become involved. Hence, the phrase, “Every man a rifleman!” Captain Samuel Nicholas formed two battalions of Continental Marines on 10 November 1775 in Philadelphia as naval infantry. World War I recalls names such as Belleau Wood, Soissons, and the Marne. Marines served valiantly in World War II at Guadalcanal, Guam, Tarawa, and Iwo Jima. The names, Smedley Butler, twice winning the Congressional Medal of Honor, and aviation ace, Pappy Boyington, demonstrate the importance of the individual Marine. Neither man was a conformist, and each rose to greatness.  In Viet Nam, Marines were called Grunts, and made their traditional sacrifices in many bloody confrontations throughout the war’s twenty one year history, including actions at Hue and Khe Sanh. Operation Desert Storm saw US Marine exposure to incoming Scud missiles and the morbidity of biological and chemical warfare, resulting in ‘Gulf War Syndrome’. Subsequent hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in death and disability from IEDs and snipers. The siege of Baghdad and the battle of Karbala are among the many Iraqi sites where US Marines have fallen. The list of Marine casualties in Iraq is sobering. As late as 2007, the United States Marine Corps strove to take over the command and primary mission of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, thereby increasing its role, and potentiating its casualties.

Throughout United States history, the willingness of the US Marine to lay down his life for his country has become legendary. The motto of the Corps, “Semper Fidelis”, announces its valorous record. A little known fact is why Marines, alone among the US Armed services, do not tuck their neckties into their dress shirts. This is because they have never lost their colours on a field of battle. Sergeant Shamar Thomas, decorated combat veteran of the Iraq War, gained national recognition for his courage and personal valor, when he stood up to NYPD officers in defense of unarmed civilians. The sight of an enraged, enormous Marine, wearing a camouflage fatigue jacket, screaming at shocked and bewildered police officers because they were hurting US citizens exercising their Constitutional rights to peacefully assemble and speak is more than memorable.

So is the sight of the body of Scott Olsen, US Marine Corps veteran, who served with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Division in Iraq, and performed two tours of duty. He safely returned home, only to lie on the ground after being struck in the head by a police projectile in a recent demonstration in Oakland.  His intended rescuers were attacked by a police officer, throwing a flash bang grenade into their midst. Olsen suffered a skull fracture with subsequent brain swelling. Like Sergeant Thomas, Scott was  wearing fatigues. He was an easy target. Subsequent to the initial attack, Olsen had a curved wound on his forehead consistent with being struck by either a tear gas canister or smoke canister shot by a police officer. Keith Shannon, who served with Olsen in Iraq, stated, “It’s terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back uninjured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us.” What has become of America, when citizens are no longer able to petition their government for redress of grievances, because of a denial by their government of the right to peaceably assemble, and an abridgement of the right of freedom of speech? What can be said of a government which allows and encourages assault on an unarmed citizen, especially a recent combat veteran, by local police, in denial of these rights? Police alleged they cleared the demonstrators using non-lethal force, but a tear gas canister can be lethal if it hits a person in the face. Any doubt that the Oakland Police were deliberately aiming at the protestors is negated by the sight of an Oakland Police officer throwing a flash bang grenade at the group who attempted to render aid to Scott Olsen. His fatigue jacket should have been a clue that he was a combat vet. President John F. Kennedy, himself the victim of an assassin’s bullet, said, very eloquently, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”


About Stefan Jacke

MagicRobert presented me with a vellum document, composed in an insane script. We were in a well secured vault in the Michener Library. His face exploded into a broad smile, as he saw me recognize the words, "That government governs best which governs least." It was a copy of "On Civil Disobedience" in the author's own hand. The experience called to mind a conversation Henry David Thoreau had with Ralph Waldo Emerson, as Thoreau sat in a jail cell, incarcerated for protesting the Mexican War. Emerson asked, "David, what are you doing in there?" Thoreau responded, "The point is, Ralph, what are you doing out there?" Once, long ago, I jumped off of big red trucks, lifted weights, and cleaned toilets for a living. Then I wrestled drunks, ran around in circles, and got splattered with blood and all manner of body fluids for a living. Now I enjoy the stillness of early morning in my rocking chair on the porch, with a hot cup of coffee, trying in vain to forget the past. Thank you, Robert!
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2 Responses to Marine Down; #Occupy Oakland

  1. Pingback: Occupy Oakland « Divinately Me!

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