There’s a saying in the Marine Corps that goes something like this: “All Marines are green.” It means that skin color is not a factor like it sometimes is in our world; everyone is the same and will be treated the same and should treat each other the same so that the mission can be accomplished. But what happens when skin color starts to matter again?
It is often said that the military is a much different world than any other, and it’s true. Many veterans discover upon reaching the end of their service and rejoining the civilian population that it isn’t so easy to adjust. It’s not easy to get along with people, it’s not easy to find meaning, and for some veterans, sadly, it’s not easy to go on living.
Tony Cruz, a Quad City resident and Marine Corps veteran, recently experienced this chasm of difference between worlds. Back in October, his and his wife’s home in a trailer park in Port Byron, IL was vandalized, ransacked, and soaked with gasoline. The perpetrators, via a typed-up note signed “KKK,” threatened to burn Tony’s home unless he and his family left the neighborhood.
And all of this because Tony is Hispanic and their daughter is biracial.
The unfortunate reality is that racism still exists in small pockets of our country, and that even after 8 tours of service, a veteran and his family are not guaranteed a safe place or an easy road. Even after all those years of blending in with the green masses surging forward for the common good, Tony must once again face a harshness of humanity that has not been eradicated, but only pushed back into society’s darkest corners.
What can we do to help people like Tony and his family? We must stand together as people. We must set aside our differences (yes, even religious and political ones) and find the fortitude to pursue that common good, relentlessly. It doesn’t matter who we are, where we came from, or where we’re going; it doesn’t even matter who the president is or who we voted for. All that matters is that we identify our needs, and recognize the likeness of these needs in others.
We must teach our children to respect and love everyone the same, to stand up for those who are picked on, and to help those less fortunate than them. Even more important than education, however, is modeling. We must be a good example of love and respect; not only to children, but to the adults around us as well.
No, we aren’t all the same color, and it would be impossible to act as such. In our differences, there is beauty and strength. But in spite of those differences, we are more alike than we realize. Let’s take a page out of the military’s book; let’s work together to accomplish our mission.