Front and Center Vol. 2 No 9 September 2023

Share this post:


Vol. 2, No 9, September 2023


Honoring the legacy of Carolina Marines and Sailors, inspiring future generations

Message from the SE0

As previously reported, we received approval from the Marine Corps for our site lease and we are now working with the Department of the Navy (the owner of the land). This process is estimated to take six months and a groundbreaking ceremony will be scheduled as soon as possible. With this approval, we plan to start construction in May 24 and will complete construction in Feb 26. All pre-construction activities continue to progress, and we have completed 100% concept design and 100% construction documents. We are ready to build a world-class museum.

While it is an exciting time with this approval, it is important to remind ourselves why this is such an important mission. The local support for CMOTM for over twenty years has been unwavering and is proven by continued private, local, and state resources devoted to supporting the project. Further, the unique role of Camp Lejeune in preparation for World War II and amphibious operations was the foundation for our victory and the great Nation we have become. This outstanding legacy of service and community support continued after World War II and persevered through our Nation’s every conflict. The story of the Carolina Marines and Sailors is compelling and worthy of being told.

Now, more than ever, we need your continued support. With our small team of 4 people, we are managing this complex project and operating expenses are a challenge. We will persevere and will not be deterred but maintaining the superb legacy of support is essential. Thank you!


BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret)
Chief Executive Officer

General John Kelly, USMC (Ret) talks about his experiences with General Al Gray, USMC (Ret)

General Al Gray’s birthday guests stopped by to talk about their experiences with the 29th Commandant over his many years of service to this nation. Below, General John Kelly, USMC (Ret) reminisces. See other interviews celebrating General Gray and his legacy at General Al Gray’s 95th Birthday.

On Honor, Courage, and Commitment

by James Danielson, PhD
USMC Veteran

United States Marines are distinguished for many achievements, and we may reasonably say that their accomplishments follow in a direct line from the kinds of people the Marine Corps seeks to develop: men and women marked by the core values of honor, courage, and commitment. These values provide a firm foundation for the three important contributions of the Marine Corps to our country, which is to make Marines, win our nation’s battles, and return to our society quality citizens. In what follows, we will consider these core values of the Marine Corps and how they may be acquired by all Americans. We begin by quoting from the Corps itself how these values are defined and understood.


“Honor guides Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior. Never lie, never cheat or steal; abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; respect human dignity and respect others. Honor compels Marines to act responsibly, to fulfill our obligations and to hold ourselves and others accountable for every action.”



“Courage is the mental, moral and physical strength ingrained in Marines. It carries us through the challenges of combat and aids in overcoming fear. It is the inner strength that enables us to do what is right, to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure.”



“Commitment is the spirit of determination and dedication found in Marines. It leads to the highest order of discipline for individuals and units. It is the ingredient that enables constant dedication to Corps and country. It inspires the unrelenting determination to achieve victory in every endeavor.”


Note that a person graced with these qualities possesses the character required of a Marine, has the inner resources needed to persist and overcome in combat, and the self-possession and maturity needed for responsible participation as a citizen in a free society. Another point of interest here is that these are core values, there are others that identify a well-developed human being but for the mission of the Marine Corps, these martial virtues are indispensable. Finally, Marines are able to develop their core values because they are essentially human qualities, and thus all people, Marine or not, may develop them.

As the Marine Corps defines honor, it leads to the “ultimate in ethical and moral behavior.” This language is important because it attests to a truth known by Marines from more than two centuries of experience in warfare, namely that moral behavior is an expression of human nature, that it can be done well or badly, and that for this reason, it is not a matter of personal taste in which no actions a person may perform can be wide of the mark of moral excellence. This is indicated in the use of the word “ultimate” which identifies the pinnacle of a scale of values and not a spot on a sprawling sea of possibilities. However, the definition enjoins each Marine to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity. There are two important elements at work here. First, our English word “integrity” derives from a Latin word that means an unimpaired condition (both inner and outer), soundness, health, uprightness. Integrity is a critical component of a well-developed human being. Second, the Marine is enjoined to follow an uncompromising code. Because we share a common nature, honor, courage, and commitment will be expressed, we may say, as the same song for everyone. However, because we are each individuals with our own personalities, and because codes of integrity are personal things, we will each sing that song in our own key.

Courage is held to be mental, moral, and physical strength. This is an important part of the definition with its origin ultimately in the work of the great thinkers of ancient Greece. We have minds, wills, and bodies and there are excellences of each one, and courage requires that we work to develop those excellences. This kind of comprehensive fitness is important for every kind of human endeavor that demands focus, skill, and steadiness of purpose in the face of possible failure. The Marines’ definition goes on to acknowledge this in saying that courage allows the Marine to perform the function of a warrior in combat where for any healthy person, fear is present. That part of our psyches we call “will” may be understood as rational desire. When it functions properly, we are drawn to that which is good for us, and repelled by that which is bad for us. We can see quite readily that death at the hands of another human being is not a good for us, and so one has a natural urge to get away from such a danger. Yet every society needs disciplined warriors for its defense and independence. Courage is thus the virtue by which a Marine remains focused and skillful in the presence of fear.


The definition then steps back a bit to widen the focus on courage. “It is the inner strength that enables us to do what is right, to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure.” There are three parts here that apply to every human being. Courage is an inner strength needed to do what is right. Human beings are flawed in that we are often tempted to do what is not right. This can happen in many ways, but none of us, upon an examination of our lives, will be able to say that I’ve never aid or done anything I wish I hadn’t said or done. Courage is in part the strength to do what is right when one is tempted not to do what is right. Courage is also in part the strength to do what is right when it is unpopular with others. Humans have always known, at least in principle, that what are the right things to do are not determined by popular opinion. Sometimes, doing the right thing may be socially or professionally costly. Courage is also the strength to adhere to a “higher standard” of personal conduct. We might take this to mean that one should look at others and try to act just a bit better than they, but in doing this we may inadvertently establish low standards that look high by comparison. We might better read this part of the definition to hold that a courageous person is always trying to improve. Finally, courage enables us to take tough decisions under stress and pressure. Stress and pressure can make clear and perceptive thinking difficult-to-impossible. Courage enables one to bring to bear proper discipline of mind and focus under pressure.

It is admirably clear and concise to say that commitment is a “spirit of determination and dedication.” We can imagine someone objecting that a spirit of determination and dedication is hardly a virtue in a liar, a thief, or a bandit, but these occupations are not honorable. Determination and dedication are plainly good qualities in someone engaged in honorable pursuits. Commitment leads to the highest order of discipline, and it is important that this quality of discipline is placed in individuals first, and then units. This can’t be overstressed because in any demanding endeavor there are distractions, perhaps dispiriting setbacks, pointless criticism, weariness, and the occasional desire to be anywhere but here doing anything but this. Indeed, we want not just discipline, but discipline in its highest order, which is a great advantage in seeking “victory in every endeavor.”

Photo credits: Public Domain
“Inner Strength.


Please join us in supporting the mission of

Carolina Museum of the Marine.

When you give to our annual campaign, you help to ensure that operations continue during construction and when the doors open!

Stand with us
as we stand up the Museum!

Copyright September 2023
Carolina Museum of the Marine

2022-2023 Board of Directors

Executive Committee

LtGen Mark Faulkner, USMC (Ret) – Chair
Col Bob Love, USMC (Ret) – Vice Chair
CAPT Pat Alford, USN (Ret) – Treasurer
Col Joe Atkins, USAF (Ret) – Secretary
Mr. Mark Cramer, JD – Executive Board Member
General Al Gray, USMC (Ret), 29th Commandant – Executive Board Member
MajGen Jim Kessler, USMC (Ret) – Executive Board Member
Col Grant Sparks, USMC (Ret) – Executive Board Member
BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret), CEO, Ex Officio Board Member


Col George “Bill” Ayers, USMC (Ret), Emeritus
Mr. Mike Bogdahn, US Marine Corps Veteran
Mr. Keith Byrd, US Marine Corps Veteran
MGySgt Osceola “Oats” Elliss, USMC (Ret)
Mr. Frank Guidara, US Army Veteran
Col Chuck Geiger, USMC (Ret)
Col Bruce Gombar, USMC (Ret)
LtCol Lynn “Kim” Kimball, USMC (Ret)
CWO4 Richard McIntosh, USMC (Ret)
LtGen Gary S. McKissock, USMC (Ret)
Col John B. Sollis, USMC (Ret)
GySgt Forest Spencer, USMC (Ret)


BGen Kevin Stewart, USMC (Ret), Chief Executive Officer
Ashley Danielson, Vice President
SgtMaj Joe Houle, USMC (Ret), Operations and Artifacts Director
CWO5 Lisa Potts, USMC (Ret). Curator

Carolina Museum of the Marine is a nonprofit organization that is rigorously nonpartisan, independent and objective.