With the Marine Corps’ 235th birthday around the corner, there’s one former Marine with a message he hopes will resonate during the traditional celebrations this season.
Battle Rattle met Patrick T. Brent, a businessman, freelance writer and former officer, in early October aboard the amphibious assault ship Makin Island, where he joined sailors, Marines and officers for San Francisco Fleet Week events.
For Brent, it was an opportune time to reiterate a pitch he has been making for the past year or so: reminding folks of the correct pronunciation of that famous division commander and 13th commandant, Lt. Gen. John Archer Lejeune. It’s “LUH-JERN,” insisted Brent, friend of the family whose lineage of leathernecks continues in today’s modern Corps.
In the ship’s hangar deck for a senior leadership seminar, Brent grabbed a pen from his jacket pocket and handed it to Battle Rattle. He felt compelled perhaps to make a correction. The three-side pen, in homage to the late commandant, provides this reminder: “The Greatest Leatherneck of them all.” This pen would write in camouflage if it could.
Brent said the correct pronunciation of Lejeune – the name, he insisted, has an absent “R” – is really all about showing respect for Lejeune, born in Pointe Coupee, La., and credited with saving the Marine Corps in the post-World War I. He feels strongly about his mission as a friend of the Lejeunes, who hail from a French-Creole region in Louisiana where the invisible “R” is part of the name’s pronunciation. He dismissed complaints from naysayers who reject his interpretation and insist on saying it, Leh-june, and offered this: “How come we don’t have a problem with the word ‘colonel’?”
And speaking of words and former Marines… don’t ever refer to George P. Schultz as a former Marine. The respected statesman and economist, now a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in nearby Palo Alto, Calif., served in the Marine Corps during World War II and left as a captain. “I am NOT a former Marine,” the 89-year-old Schultz forcefully reminded the seminar crowd shortly after his introduction. “I am a Marine. Ooh-rah!”