There is an understanding amongst military personnel and civilians alike that Marines stay Marines as long as they are six feet above ground, and that they have a unique level of camaraderie and commitment that sets them apart.
It was to that end in 1937 that the Marine Corps League was established by Congress during the Roosevelt Administration, and since that time its basic mission is to help Marines continue to serve their country and communities, whether they are still active or are retired. They have a saying, and that is, “A Marine may leave the Corps…but the Corps will NEVER leave the Marine!” There are over 3,000 Marines in Northern Alabama, a number that surprised me, and it is the desire of the League to see that those who have served be served well.
Besides the recent holiday service effort of Toys for Tots, which garnered several boxes of toys as well as a bike for needy kids in Limestone County, the Marine Corps League has a scholarship program, an outreach to wounded Marines, whether they have just recently been wounded or their injury occurred in past wars, a youth physical fitness program designed to keep kids off drugs and to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and the Young Marines Program, which is described as being a “youth program emphasizing honesty, courage, respect, industry, loyalty, dependability , and a sense of devotion to God, country, community and family.” The Marine League is the only of the many veterans’ organization that has a federal charter.
The MCL also is involved in other areas of activity, including a legislative program that keeps an eye on things that can affect benefits, entitlements of active duty as well as retired personnel, and military readiness. One of the my favorite things about their mission statement is their commitment to aid and render service not only to Marines, but “to their widows and orphans.” They are also most interested in preserving the history and legacy of the Corps, and those who have served in it.
Retired USMC Staff Sergeant Skip Ferguson and Private Tony Grigsby are the Commandant and Junior Vice Commandant, respectively of the local chapter. They are both Viet Nam era vets, Skip having served for 20 years, and Tony only for one, due to an injury to his knee.
They are running into a problem that is plaguing all the veterans’ organizations: the old guard is passing on, and there is a need for young blood. Sometimes when vets have been involved in combat, they don’t want to be around other vets, but that’s when you need the “Band of Brothers,” (as William Shakespeare called them,) the very most.
The Marine Corps League is different from other vets’ organizations, in that you have to have been a Marine in order to belong to the MLC. They do come together with other vets’ organizations for joint projects, but if you are in need of the presence of other Marines, or have been “away for awhile,” and wish to rekindle that fire, call Skip at 256-529-5907for more information.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner