Edward Schiffmann Wear joined the United States Marines during World War II and was sent to the Pacific Theater. He was the brother of Irene Wear – my grandmother. He died during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The story is told in my family that as he died, he was praying the Lord’s Prayer with a chaplain.
Achieving the rank of Corporal in the 9th Marines Regiment, my great uncle answered the call of his country to defend her freedom against an aggressor nation.
He was one of the 6,812 Americans killed or missing on Iwo Jima.
A man I never met who died long ago and far away continues to have a tremendous impact on my life. My mother still talks about him to this day. She has been sharing stories of her memories of him with me the last couple of days. Yet, I still hardly know anything about him. I don’t know what his favorite food was. I don’t know what he thought of being the youngest to three sisters. I don’t know how he felt about living in the city of Chicago but spending his summers on Long Lake.
In spite of this I still feel tremendously proud, and humbled at the same time, that I am part of his family.
The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the most important battles of the Pacific side
of World War II. It has become iconic of the sacrifice, determination and leadership that United States Marines personify in today’s world.
Called by some the “Greatest Generation,” most of the men and women who answered their country’s call to fight in World War II did so not for glory or fame, but to do a job that needed to be done. They came from all walks of life. Some, like my great uncle, from humble beginnings. Many, again like my great uncle, went to war never to return to the United States alive.
But as far as I am concerned, they did not die in vain. They died, in part, for me. They died for you and for all Americans as well as for all peace- and freedom-loving people around the world. They made the ultimate sacrifice so that I could be free to worship, work, play, and live as I choose.
In this way, they are a lot like Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ laid down His life so that others – the world, in fact – could be free from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Jesus Christ personifies the United States Marines motto – Semper Fidelis – “Always Faithful.”
United States Marines have been protecting these freedoms longer than there has been a United States. Formed on November 10, 1775 in Philadelphia, men and women who served as U.S. Marines have been making sure that the United States is protected from those who would take our freedom away.
Happy Birthday, United States Marines. May God always bless and protect you as you are always faithful to corps and country.