Tag Archives: U S Marines

Atheists, The Marines, and When a Cross Transcends All Religious Meaning

When it comes to certain topics surrounding patriotism and the military, I have a tendency of toning down my own rhetoric. In this, I will restrict myself to making one point about atheism, and leave the rest to someone far more qualified to speak on this issue.
Tomb of the Unknowns
Atheists have repeatedly been taking the spotlight lately for various levels of stupid behavior. For whatever reason, they are finding it necessary to stick their noses in where they don’t belong. Whether it’s lawsuits about religious items on public land, or un-blessing a road, they’re obviously trying to make it clear that they will not tolerate anyone showing any signs that they follow any religion publicly. But, this time, they have crossed the line from attacking religion, to the point of attacking the secular sacred. Yes, there is such a thing, and we as a nation, observe it at least once yearly, on Memorial Day. As the daughter, granddaughter, cousin, and niece of veterans and service members from World War II to this very moment, I know very well that some things are sacred to soldiers, and have nothing to do with religion, even if it appears so to outsiders. The current atheist crusade of trying to have the crosses removed from Camp Pendleton is no different than petitioning the Federal Government to remove the Tomb of the Unknowns from Arlington National Cemetery.

But don’t take my word for it when it comes to explaining the meaning of this memorial at Camp Pendleton. Today, I was privileged enough to receive a response from a Marine that had been stationed there. He graciously explained the meaning of the memorial, and his thoughts on the issue:

I was stationed at Camp Pendleton from 2000 to 2005. I was assigned to 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, Weapons Company, CAAT Platoon which is located at Camp Horno where these crosses are located. Camp Horno is a remote camp that is compromised entirely of Infantry and Infantry only. There aren’t even any female Marines located anywhere close. It houses four to five Infantry Battalions and the 1st Marine Regiments Headquarters, so basically a lot of testosterone and a lot angry Jarheads with a lot of bad memories surrounded by a mountain side and an active firing range across the road.

Back in 2003, seven Marines from 2nd Battalion 1st Marines climbed up to the top of Horno ridge and erected a cross to honor our brothers who had been killed in action. It became a place for reflection and a place to clear our heads when the memories got too bad. I remember nights when I couldn’t sleep, which was most of the time, I would climb up that damn hill and visit the cross. I would always bring a bottle of Jack Daniels or Johnny Walker Black, and made sure I left half behind for my brothers who were no longer there.

My battalion returned to Iraq in 2004, and that deployment took a heavy toll on all of us. We lost 33 men during operations in and around Fallujah. We came home extremely proud, but every one of us knew we would never be the same again. The cross had a new meaning to us. During morning PT runs we carried large rocks up the hills with us to place at the base of the cross, and pay homage to our brothers. The bigger the better. If it caused pain even better. We all had tortured souls after that deployment, and we almost felt as if the more pain we caused ourselves, somehow it would change the fact that they weren’t there anymore. It was our way of honoring them. Some men even brought their Purple Heart Medals, which were given to them for being wounded in combat, and left them there as a tribute. I remember once also seeing a Silver Star, one of the highest awards you can receive for valor, left on top of a large stone. There were all kinds of tributes being left there, from pictures, to bottles of alcohol, and articles of clothing. This was not a place for the public. This was a place that we Infantry Marines felt was ours. Our solemn ground, where we could hold onto fleeting memories of some of the greatest men we have ever known.

When I first read the article that a group of atheists demanded that they be taken down, I grew enraged. The crosses had nothing to do with religion. We lost men of all religions during these wars, and we lost men that didn’t believe in god. Some of my fellow Marines who visited the cross on a daily basis were atheist, and they would defend that cross with their lives if it came down to it. I’m not a religious person at all, but I would do anything to defend that cross. What’s next? Are they going to dig up all the graves at Normandy Beach in France that honor our dead from World War II? Last time I checked that’s sovereign American ground with crosses and stars of David. As Marines, if we really wanted to offend people, we would have put a giant Jesus statue up with him pissing on a Koran, but we didn’t. We simply put up a cross, the same way a family puts one up at the side of a road where another family member had died in a car accident.

The way I see it is if you don’t like the cross, don’t look at it. If the very existence of the cross bothers them that much that they need it to be removed, well then the very existence of this group bothers me and a whole lot of other Marines enough that we would be more than happy to remove them from existence. We are not the Boy Scouts, and about the only thing worse than disrespecting our beloved Marine Corps is disrespecting our fallen warriors who have given them their rights with their lives.

Semper Fidelis

About the Conduct of Our Soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan

I am submitting this in response to the comments about the Marines who were video taped pissing on dead Taliban members. This is a post I first wrote on the original Patriot Action Network site on October 19, 2010 at 3:40 a.m. It was originally addressed to some who criticized me and others for advocating working through the political system to solve our political problems. They were calling me and others names because we were, and are, working hard to prevent a war here in America. Although written for a different subject matter then, it is very appropriate in the context of the story of our Marines pissing on dead Taliban.

This is addressed to anyone who feels they have a right to criticize our military people fighting the battles day in and day out, and especially directed to the lame politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D. C.

I am writing this in response to Gerald, Gary, Jaymes, and others of like mind. You posted comments that denigrate the attitudes of me and Dave Ruhoff about our ideas of using peaceful means to take our country back from the leftists who now run our government. I don’t know any of you and never saw your names before this discussion. I have some thoughts for you in regards to your comments about “sunshine patriots” and “collaborators”. If anyone has a weak stomach do not read this. It is not vulgar but is rather graphic to make a point I think is very important to those who think violence is the answer to our woes. If you have ever been in combat you should be ashamed of yourselves. If not, you shouldn’t be spouting the way you did. I went to bed but could not sleep and hope that expressing my thoughts will clear my head and allow me to sleep, and at the same time, give some of you something to reflect upon.

Before thinking ill of us, go enlist in the Army or Marine Corp. Volunteer for combat as an infantry soldier. Spend a couple of years in the mountains of Afghanistan. Spend every day with the threat of death at your elbow. Take that 100 pound rucksack and carry it until your shoulders ache from the load. Walk until you hips, legs, ankles, and feet cry out in pain. Go until you think you can’t walk any more and then keep on going. Go experience the freezing cold, the snow, the rain, the mud. Volunteer to be the point man. Walk along terrain that is so slippery you can barely sand up. And while you are doing this, be on constant alert for snipers, booby traps, or the ambush waiting around the next bend, past the next tree, or past the next boulder. Watch a 180 degree arc side to side and from ground level to the tops of trees, rocks, ridges, etc. for the ambush that could come at any second without warning, just the sudden burst from a grenade, mortar, RPG, or machine gun. Watch east step you take because the rock you kick might have a live grenade under it, or a trip wire, waiting for some poor unsuspecting grunt to kick it and have his legs blown off, or worse.

Lay there at night among the rocks, too tired and scared to sleep, every noise you hear being the chance of an enemy sneaking up to slit your throat. Experience the ambush, bullets tearing the ground around you. See the guy next to you get hit and feel his blood splatter all over you. Feel the relief, and the guilt, when your first thought is “I am okay, thank God it wasn’t me” as he lays there bleeding to death because you can’t quite firing long enough to help him as you are outnumbered 50-1.

Experience the fear of hand to hand combat, you with your knife and the enemy with his. Feel the pain as his knife slashes at your body. Feel your knife plunge into his sternum or stomach and the sensation as it stops when the hilt hits and his blood begins to run along your hand. Or hear the hissing of an enemy hand grenade a split second before it explodes, hurling hot metal into your body and the concussion knocking you to the ground. Feel the pain and fear as you lay there, semi-conscious and unable to defend yourself as enemy soldiers run past you, hoping they don’t stick you with a bayonet or pump a few rounds into you for good measure.

Or feel the sensation of being shot, the hot flash of pain and the feeling of being hit by a baseball bat swung by a Major League slugger. Live like this day in and day out for a year or two. Then come talk to me about “sunshine patriots”. Then come talk to me about “collaborators”. Then come talk to me about “weak willed people only willing to write letters or vote”.

Before judging people like Dave and me, walk a mile in my shoes and see if you can come up with a better plan. See if you can understand why pounding the pavement to get out the vote and writing letters to elected officials to get your point across and accomplish your goals is acceptable. My apologies to those who find this disturbing. My goal here is to; hopefully, give those who are looking for a war something to think about. How about we try it my way? America is worth it to me.

God Bless America.

Bob Russell
Claremore, Oklahoma
January 20, 2012