Skip to main content

Will Hayden: Happy Birthday Marine Corps

Recently, I was invited to be the guest of honor at the Marine Corps Ball here in Louisiana. I then found out that they wanted me to be the guest of honor and that I would need to give a speech.

I think it goes without saying, it was an incredible experience for me. I'd never gone to the ball, you know, even when I was active service. My first experience with it was as the guest of honor, it was also my first experience at public speaking. It was really great being back in the full company of Marines. We did the ceremony and walked out with Honor Guard, cut the cake, watched the color ceremony and then I gave my short speech. They actually filmed this, so it'll show up eventually.

I was pretty nervous about the whole thing, I mean, "What to say?" I'm not a politician, so no "vote for me" speech. I don't have a movie I want them to all go watch or a book to plug. I have a little show on TV, which to me is a pretty trivial accomplishment. I have a business that I'm proud of, but I've never made a sales pitch in my life, so that's out.

Besides, these are Marines. They have a different set of priorities. So I thought about it and threw away everything I had written and just walked out with a question.


Now, there's one question every Marine gets: "What's it like being in the Marine Corps?" I've never tried to answer this one. Because there's just no way to explain it, not in words they'll understand -- or at least I've never been able to do it.


How do you tell somebody what it's like doing bends and thrusts until you puke, and still keep going because your drill instructor's not tired? How do you tell people what that's like? Walking your post in a military manner, and there's nobody around for two miles to see you do it, and you're still doing it right. I couldn't tell you why. Living and serving with people that live words like "duty," "honor," "courage" and "integrity" every day of their lives. It's not just stuff that they see in a movie or words they see on a page in a book; it's their whole reason for being. How do you tell people what it's like knowing men like that? I can't.

How do you tell people what it's like to serve with men who put on their uniform every day knowing that they are their nation's sacrifice for freedom, for honor, for dignity? I've never been able to express it. 

How do you tell people what it's like when you look down the line and you see all the Marines that aren't with you anymore? There's no knowing. There's no way of telling people what that's like.

Being called "Marine," was the proudest moment of my life. It's a title I felt unworthy of then, and one I'm still trying to live up to this day. There were a lot of young Marines at the Ball and I wanted to tell them "thank you," and I wanted to tell them that as they go through live and through the ranks, they'll earn many titles, but it's that first title, "Marine" , that will make all the rest possible. 
Happy birthday, Marine Corps. I wish I could tell people what it's like, but one of y'all will have to step up because I can't. And Happy Veterans' Day to all the servicemen and women of the Armed Forces -- God love you and keep you safe.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Sub-compact size and 9mm ammo capacity come together in the high-value, optic-ready Ruger Max-9 pistol.Ruger Max-9 Optic-Ready 9mm Sub-Compact Pistol: Tested & Full Review
Handguns

Ruger Max-9 Optic-Ready 9mm Sub-Compact Pistol: Tested & Full Review

Sub-compact size and 9mm ammo capacity come together in the high-value, optic-ready Ruger...

Jeremy Stafford

The first in this new family of Springfield Armory rifles is the Model 2020 Waypoint, the result of years of engineering, testing and evaluation, combined with premium grade components found on rifles costing thousands of dollars more.First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle
Rifles

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

The first in this new family of Springfield Armory rifles is the Model 2020 Waypoint, the...

Guns & Ammo Staff

Popular Videos

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle Review

Benelli Lupo Bolt-Action Rifle Review

It is unlike any other rifle on the market because it offers features no one else does; those looking for a rifle that fits like a custom-made firearm should look no further than the Benelli Lupo.

Shooting 600 Yards with .300 Blackout

Shooting 600 Yards with .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout cartridge was developed to provide greater effectiveness than a 9mm at short and medium ranges when fired from a short-barreled suppressed firearm. Just because the cartridge wasn't designed to go long doesn't mean Rifles & Optics Editor Tom Beckstrand won't take it there, using a large-format pistol, no less. Armed with SIG Sauer's 9-inch-barreled MCX Virtus Pistol loaded with Black Hills' 125-grain TMK ammunition, Beckstrand attempts to ring steel at 600 yards with help from Hornady's 4DOF ballistic calculator in this segment of “Long Range Tech.”

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

Trijicon RMRcc Reflex Sight – Perfect for Optics-Ready Concealed-Carry Pistols

The people asked and Trijicon answered. Introducing the RMRcc miniature red-dot sight for compact, concealed-carry pistols. Trijicon's new RMRcc features the durability and reliable controls that have made the RMR so successful, but its reduced dimensions make the “Concealed Carry” model better suited for the popular small-frame pistols designed for discreet carry and personal defense.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now