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by R.W. "Dick" Gaines GySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952-72 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED! NOW... ABOUT
MARINES PRESIDENTIAL QUOTE!
"Some people spend an entire
if they've made a difference. The Marines don't
have that problem."
President Ronald Reagan seems to be universally
credited with the above quote, and the quote
itself is generally shown with Reagan's name
But, was he the originator of that saying?
No, he was not!
He did speak those words in 1985 (or whenever)
alright, but he was not the first one to do so.
I, personally, know that the above "quote" was
known to Marines long prior to 1983/1985. In fact,
when I heard Reagan use it, I recall that I
jokingly remarked to the effect that he would
likely then be credited with it. But I never
really thought that all reference to the original
speaker of those words would be lost.
Today, a search of the Internet would seem to
indicate Reagan as the original speaker/writer of
those words, and it must appear that way on a
thousand Marines' websites that I've seen! Now
that the saying has found its way into print
together with Reagan's name, the world believes
what it sees is fact, and If the true reference
is still out there somewhere, it is in indeed
I am surprised that I can now find so few
old-time Marines who remember it before Reagan.
Most likely it was first written or voiced by a
Marine--but possibly someone else-- in a
statement, a book or some other writing.
No, I do not think that President Reagan intended
to misrepresent this quote--I do think too many
people erroneously just assume/believe he is the
original author of it.
Not a big thing you say? You're right, but ya
see, I have this big red coffee cup w/a Marine
Corps Emblem (not an ega, mind you--but that's another story) on one side
and this "quote" on the
other; the side w/the quote is the side I look
at each time I take a sip--it has begun to annoy
me to the point that I have finally decided to do
something about it!
Have been searching for the original author of
this to no avail, so I would appreciate feedback
from those who read this--hopefully, from some
old salt who remembers the truth (you boots don't
know any better), or better even a specific
reference. Somebody out there must have a better
memory than I do--my thanks in advance.
This could be another myth in development here.
For the record, I don't want to see this become another
legend like the phony Chapultapec, red NCO stripe story,
etc.! (sometimes referred to as a bloodstripe)
GySgt USMC (Ret.) 1952-72
The above information has been on my
websites, in one form or another, for several years (it is nowJuly 2003), my thanks
and appreciation to those few (damn few) Marines who have contacted me
saying that they too recall this saying, or quotation, as being extant
prior to Ronald Reagan's presidency.
There has been little to substantiate my opinion that the subject quote
by President Reagan was not his originally, but used from some now unknown
previous writer or speaker.
I have contacted various organizations and individuals (mostly on the
www) requesting information, but what I am looking for has not been forthcoming.
In addition, I have contacted the Ronald Reagan Library, and also Peggy
Noonan who was a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan during the 1980s.
The Ronald Reagan Library advises that there have been similar inquiries
from others prior to mine. Although they point out that they are sure that
RR did make the statement in question, they are unable to determine the
date and place of such after several attempts searching their records. They
suggest that if I can provide them the date and place, then they may be able
to check the speechwriter's records to determine if an original author was
noted there. Of course, I am unable to provide the name and date, most of
the numerous websites indicate only 1985, and in one case 1983.
Peggy Noonan advises that she does not doubt that he may have said it,
but she does not remember him doing so. I have never suggested myself that
he did not say it; indeed I was one of those who watched President Reagan
on TV when he did so, but I do not know just when and where that was--and
it is possible he made the remark on more than one occasion.
So, what I thought was going to be a tough job--finding the original
author--has developed into an even bigger mystery by reason that it now
appears that I cannot even document, from the sources indicated above,
when and where Ronald Reagan said it in the first place.
I'm sure that the proliferation on the Net of Marines' websites showing
this quotation is due to its just being accepted and repeated without question,
on and on, thus reinforcing the belief that it was an original statement
by the president.
Again, it is not my intention to detract anything from the president--I
am sure he never intended to claim that he was the original author. I have
received considerable feedback from Marines--mostly retired SNCOs and Officers--who
dislike my trying to show that there was another author. Likewise, many
of the above also are unhappy with information I have posted to my websites
regarding the legends of the Corps, e.g., regarding the red stripe on the
trousers of officers and noncommissioned officers, the birthplace of the
Corps, etc. Many of them come right out and say they don't care about the
"facts" of such matters, but that "tradition" is their preference. That's
fine, I am sure that tradition is not endangered in any way by truth simply
because there are now some who have researched and found that some legends
are not all we once thought them to be. Let's keep the traditions together
with the facts.
All of these items are annotated with clear references from those who
have researched these things. In the sole case of the "quotation," I have
clearly stated that the above is my opinion only and I am not yet able
to provide conclusive proof that I am correct.