Tuesday, November 15, 2005
One more stamp would fit right in
BY OUR OPINION Jacksonville,NC Daily News
The members of the crowd that gathered at the Marine Corps Exchange at Camp Lejeune last Thursday weren't hard to please. They knew what they wanted, and they came to get it - and that's exactly what they did.They were the first in line when the U.S Postal Service began selling the new Marine Corps stamps honoring four of the Corps' most legendary Leathernecks.
The stamps, finally issued following some intense, years-long lobbying by private, Marine and congressional groups, debuted to a highly appreciative audience. The Marines, both active-duty and retired, and dependents who showed up to get their hands on the first issues of these stamps had long anticipated the event. It's doubtful any will grace the outside of an envelope - instead they were purchased as keepsakes honoring four legendary Marines.
The four: former Commandant John Lejeune; Lewis "Chesty" Puller, recipient of five Navy Crosses; and two Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, John Basilone and Daniel Daly, were honored for their contributions to Corps and country.
All were combat heroes. Lejeune, for whom Camp Lejeune is named, was the first Marine officer to command a U.S. Army division. The two-time commandant earned a chest-full of medals and decorations for service in Panama, Cuba, Mexico, the Philippines, France and Germany.
Puller - probably the best-known Marine of all time - was also one of the most highly decorated. Like Lejeune, Puller rose to the rank of lieutenant general. He was what's known as a mustang - an officer who entered service in the enlisted ranks. After seeing combat in several places, including Haiti, Puller distinguished himself during World War II and Korea. Even after retirement, Puller tried to volunteer for duty in Vietnam - a request denied as a result of his advanced years.
John Basilone, an Italian-American who was one of 10 children, never reached "old age." The 27-year-old died on Iwo Jima after receiving the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor for actions aboard Guadalcanal. Basilone, a machine gunner, was brought back to the U.S. mainland following his highly publicized exploits in the Pacific and offered a commission, but he spurned the offer and chose instead to return to combat. He later died on Iwo Jima.
Daniel Daly was a New York state native who achieved fame during World War I. Once described as the greatest fighting man in U.S. history, Daly had the distinction of having earned the Medal of Honor twice for two separate acts of heroism. His first award stemmed from actions during the Boxer Rebellion, while his second was earned at Belleau Woods in France. He retired as a sergeant major.
To be sure, the four men honored by last week's stamp issue represent some of the best who ever claimed the title of Marine.
But still, many believe there is a stamp missing from the U.S. Postal Service line-up of such commemorative stamps - one that commemorates and honors the men who died during the Beirut bomb blast on Oct. 23, 1983.
That tragedy, which struck Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville and Onslow County extremely hard one of the first attacks in the war on terror. Until the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the Beirut bombing was the most significant terrorist attack on U.S. citizens in the country's history.
Efforts to prod the USPS into issuing a commemorative stamp on behalf of the Beirut fallen have thus far proved fruitless, but it's hoped this attack will one day receive the attention it deserves.
The men who died in Beirut deserve to be remembered, honored and most of all, recognized for their sacrifice by the issuance of one more stamp.