The Right Coast

May 26, 2005
Why they serve
By Tom Smith

This is a beautiful piece in USA Today by my former student and friend Kathryn Roth-Douquet. Kathy (as I called her) has a fascinating story. She was an assistant deputy in DOD, a quite responsible post, in the Clinton administration, when she met the handsome aviator who flew Marine One, the President's helicopter. Now Kathy is the CO's wife, has two lovely kids, and her husband, Greg, has just left for his second tour to Iraq, in command of (my military terminology fails me here) a large group of Marine choppers. Dangerous, important work. Kathy explains why Marine families do it.

I have learned a lot from Kathy. Whenever I am tempted to think that conservatives or Republicans have a monopoly on patriotism, I think of Kathy and Greg. I never have or will make a sacrifice like they have made for this country. The Marines may be mostly a pretty right wing lot, but there are still plenty of Marines, soldiers and airmen who vote on the Democratic side of the ballot. Another thing is something about patriotism, as transfigured through an organization like the Marines. Having had quite a few Marines (there really doesn't seem to be such a thing as a 'former Marine') as students over the years, I have seen the way they really are a band of brothers (and sisters) and a band of families. It helps give you a clue about what makes a nation a nation, what allows it to survive, and what makes it worth fighting for. It is something like love. Yet it is almost as if to be an academic, you have to prove that you are completely unaware or indifferent to this.

So add Kathy and Greg and their family to your list of people to pray for this Memorial Day. Family, in this context, covers a lot of ground.

HERE is the official website of Greg's unit. The official history makes interesting reading.

I AM advised by a former Marine USD Law grad that former Marines may refer to themselves as 'former Marines' but never 'ex-Marine.'