The Bear Flag

The Bear Flag
Murl D. Long

August 28, 1945. Forty young men stand for induction into the Marine Corps on this day
A symbol is dedicated to the group that will accompany them along their way
The California Bear Flag is handed off from the Marine Corps League to the group
When their training is finished, it will find it’s way back from the troop

To the League in Fresno, CA, from whence these men came
The San Joaquin Platoon will be their temporary name
The world over knows what goes into training these recruits
Commonly known as Marine Corps ‘boots’

For eleven weeks, up at 4:00 AM, a full day ahead that ends at 10:00 PM, exhausted, you can bet
No one has been able to copy this training, nor build the camaraderie in each man, yet
Were you to ask, and I heartily enlist that you do
The man next to you is your best friend, to see whatever task through

No thought is given to ‘will he fail me in times of trouble and strife’
He shall not fail you, on that you can bet your life
The weeks fly by and so much is taught these enlisted souls
Each has one thing in common, I will join my comrades in reaching all our goals

Our life, some day, will depend on the knowledge we learn here and now
One thing for sure, whether 17 or 70, what you have learned will stay with you somehow
Boot camp is over and each man is assigned by some mystery man far away
To the role we will carry out to our very last enlisted day

No thought is given to the symbol we carried with pride
Off into our new world we will happily ride
Many wars have come and gone and to list a few
Will be proper to give them just due

Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and a few others I might add
Many of the Platoon, in one or the other, have fallen. How so very sad
Fast forward 29 years to 1975, a search is done for the symbol tucked away
Safely, in Fresno Marine Corps League Archives, to be retrieved for a special day

What? No record of the Flag being returned to it’s proper and revered spot in history
An oversight, yes, but a correction should be put in motion, just to make it right, you see
Another 31 years go by and, suddenly a great man appears from the Virginia scene
A General by rank, more importantly, a Marine

He goes the extra mile to right this wrong
For him, with his character, knowledge, ability to get things done, this won’t take long
The task is successfully completed, as I knew it would
And the California Bear Flag is enshrined where it should

Drop by some day to the Marine Corps League, city of Fresno, and ask to see
The symbol of the San Joaquin Platoon, to the delight of everyone, even you and me
True, the ranks of those Marines of the original 40 recruits have been severely thinned
It is to recognize them that this writing is painfully penned

Some by all those wars, and, yes, some just by the passage of time that ravage us all For those men, they can each now say, ” The symbol is safe”, and before it is my time to fall God Bless each and every man in the San Joaquin Platoon, for their work is done, and allow me to say
God Bless those who in any way, made sure the Flag found it’s proper home-where it will now stay
Another journey is accomplished, another good deed is done, so pleasant the scene Remember-this story could not be told without the very big heart of a special “General Marine”

Murl D. Long
August 28,2005

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