Expecting Nothing, Giving All

USMC Commandant Franklin Wharton

Walking back to my layover hotel near Trinity Episcopal Church in lower Manhattan, I caught the flicker of an American flag in my peripheral vision, waving somewhere over my head. I was walking along the wall of the graveyard just south of the church. As I peered over the wall and through the wrought iron fence, I found the gravesite of Lieutenant Colonel Franklin Wharton, USMC…He has been dead nearly 200 years, yet his stone is well kept and legible where so many others fade away like so much eroding stone.  LtCol Wharton was the third Commandant of the Marine Corps and served during the War of 1812, ultimately dying while still in office. Not a general officer, a Lieutenant Colonel. He fought, he served, he gave all…yet from this humble gravesite and his rank, we presume that he expected nothing. Though I don’t know much of his personal or military history, taken at face value, I believe that it is this sort of servant of the people that lays the foundation for the future of a great nation…

When I found this scene, I thought of my old friend and former room mate (while junior officers in flight school). He too is a retired Lieutenant Colonel who served his country selflessly. This “old” Marine continues to serve us as he honors other veterans…He volunteers to fly flights for children of fallen heroes…He raises awareness of veterans’ needs, and takes leadership roles in running events to honor and benefit veterans. He is part of a team of men and women that return lost Purple Hearts to their owners or living family members, ensuring that other old veterans hold on to the honors they are due. It makes me proud to know him…unassuming, continuing the watch, honoring other veterans and the fallen. We should all have such a servant’s heart…it would be amazing to see the world we could make.


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