Letter to a Marine Recruit

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I recently wrote a letter to Marine Recruit Gabe Cromer, who will be graduating and becoming a US Marine Private next Friday. As it says in the letter, we’re all very proud of Gabe and all of those who choose to serve and protect our freedoms. Please feel free to share this with any of the serving men and women you know, and let them know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice. Please also join me in praying for the health and safety of all who serve. God do bless them all.


May 25, 2021 

RCT Cromer, Gabriel 
Box 16220 
Parris Island, SC 

Dear Gabe, 

I’ve been meaning to write you for a couple weeks, but life is kind of busy, and I’m just now getting around to it. I hope my letter comes on a day when you don’t get any other mail. 

I know we don’t know each other very well, but we know each other enough for me to be proud of you for the decisions you’re making in your life and for you to be proud that people appreciate the sacrifices you are making for us and the commitment you have made to our nation and everything that entails. Plus, I know how proud your mom and Randy are of you. They mean a lot to me, and if doing a small thing to show them my appreciation also passes along all the appreciation that you and your fellows deserve, well, then that’s just ducky. 

And this message isn’t just for you; it’s for you and all the men and women you’re serving with…your peers, your officers, the Marines who serve you in the mess, the Marines who cut your hair…all of you. You have each come to a moment in your lives when you have said “I will.” Whether the questions were ever actually asked or not, our country’s very existence, and the freedoms and standards that Americans have come to enjoy, asked, “Who will go? Who will serve?’ Who will stand? Who will protect, and, if need be, who will fight?” Each one of you heard those questions, and you came back with those two words: “I will.” 

And for so many of us back here at home, most of whom never get the opportunity to say it, we are so very thankful for and proud of you. We’re thankful to know that these freedoms and standards that we enjoy, the feeling of security and comfort they give us, are not being left to chance, that men and women from our number chose to stand up and safeguard them for us. We’re proud to call you our brothers and sisters and to know that there are those among us who will give themselves to something greater. 

Spread that word down there for me, please. Tell your buddies and your sergeants, and any Marine you feel the need to, that their sacrifices are valuable and there are those of us back home who know and appreciate that value. Tell them that the difficulty of it all matters to us and that we thank them for shouldering heavy burdens on or behalf. 

And tell them what I tell you now, that we’re praying for them, just as I am praying for you. I have strong faith in God and part of that faith is that God looks down on those of you who serve, those of you who will give of yourself for the good of others, and He smiles a special smile that the rest of us will never receive. 

I know it’s been difficult on you, brother, but I also know you’ve proven to yourself that you can take it. I can only imagine that these last few weeks are going to be just as tough, but know this: Your sacrifice matters, and the difficulty is what you need. It is what is going to make you into the Marine and the man that you are destined to be. In that, relish in it and be thankful for it; want for it to be even tougher than it is, because the tougher it is, the tougher you’ll be on the other side of it. 

Thanks, be well, and God’s strength and speed to your pursuits and endeavors. 

With sincere and humble regard and respect, 


Paul Keenan 

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