By: Phil Brennan

The other day I read a piece about the state of readiness of an Iraqi military unit that is performing extremely well. After complimenting the Iraqi unit's advancement, the writer added that "of course, it's not the First Marine Division - but then, nobody is."

Right on. What the writer was saying is that the First Marine Division in its perfection stands alone among all of the world's military. The same can be said about the entire Marine Corps. It simply has no equals. Not a one.

This needs to be said in the face of the release of the film "Jarhead" a sniveling anti-war film that slanders the finest fighting force on the face of the earth as a bunch of deranged primitives living in a progressive age.

Writing in Opinion Journal Tuesday, Brendan Miniter describes the film as "a succession of deflating experiences leading up to the conclusion that war is a waste of time and it destroys all those who engage in it ...

"What Hollywood is tossing up on the silver screen is a political strategy the left hopes to employ: using disillusioned warriors to discredit the war, he wrote.

The movie, Miniter explains, "is based on a memoir by the real-life Anthony Swofferd about his experience in the Marines during the first Gulf War. But producer Sam Mendes could have just as easily have been inspired by Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" or even Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 "Apocalypse Now"--which makes a brief appearance in "Jarheads" as a film shown to the Marines in preparation for going off to war."

Look hard enough and you can always find some malcontent who has a grievance against a person or a group with whom he had once been associated and which he imagines mistreated him or failed to recognize all the elements of his sterling character. With Swofferd that was the Marine Corps which obviously failed miserably in his case to do what it does best: take an ordinary man and turn him into a United States Marine who is proud to bear that title all his life.

In Swofferd's case what came out of the Corps was an obviously disgruntled misfit who now blames his inability to fit comfortably into civilian life on the Corps - and isn't afraid to make a buck slandering his former comrades and the cause they serve.

He is, of course, pretty much a sniveling voice crying in the leftist anti-war wilderness - a male Cindy Sheehan now enjoying his allotted 15 minutes of notoriety. In the end he'll find himself eternally numbered among those held in contempt as a Benedict Arnold clone by the men and women in whose proud company he once served.

Last Saturday, joined by my brother Jim, a retired Marine major, and his wife Rita, I was honored to be a guest of the Marine Air Control Squadron 24 at their ball observing the Marine Corps 230th Birthday in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

I found myself surrounded by 400 of the finest men and women on the face of the earth. Resplendent in their dress blues, many back in the U.S. and standing tall after one or two tours of duty in Iraq - assignments they rightly viewed as badges of honor - they reminded me that there are still some extraordinary and dedicated noble warriors in America who typify everything that is, and has always been, great and decent and glorious about the United States.

Without exception, they see the war in Iraq as fully justified, and they are angered by the mainstream media for emphasizing the bad news in Iraq while ignoring all the good news about the progress of freedom and democracy to which by their courage and compassion they have contributed so much. It is said that Marines are born, not made. I take exception to that. We may have in our genes a potential to become Marines, and perhaps even an inborn need to become one, but we have to be made into Marines. And when we are shaped and formed by the Corps, we become Marines, and will be Marines until the day we die. It's true: Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Every fiber of our being has been transformed as if penetrated by some extraordinary set of stem cells introduced into our bodies in the clinics called Parris Island and San Diego. Marines may not be conscious of it, but everything we think, do, or say for as long as we live is colored by the formation process that turns raw recruits into United States Marines.

Marines are trained to see whatever confronts us in life as a hill that has to be taken, and that we cannot rest until it is taken. Like Winston Churchill, we subscribe to the dicta "never, never, never ever give in." And as Marines have proved time and again, we don't.

That's second nature to Marines, whether they are still in active service or have returned to civilian life. It is no accident that the majority of Leathernecks in or out of active service, are conservative in their politics in their philosophy, and in their life styles.

Liberals don't see obstacles as hills to be taken. They see them as pieces of real estate to be bought with taxpayers's money, or as symbols of multiculterism whose occupiers are entitled to respect for their sacred diversity. In that case, liberals either bypass the hill, or simply ignore it.

Marines' conservatism is an expression of the Corps' philosophy which more than any other reflects that of the courageous men who founded this nation. They achieved the impossible in taking on the mightiest military force on the face of the earth, and, against all odds, defeating it after years of losing battle after battle. They created a system that took 13 mostly countrified colonies and made of them into the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation on the face of the earth. And they did it all in a couple of hundred years.

The lives Marines live, and the many great things they achieve no matter what the odds, give the lie to the Swofferds of the world. The Marines of the Third and Fifth Divisions who lost 6,000 of their number on Iwo Jima during 30 days of some of the worst fighting in World War II yet never gave in until they took that piece of Hell are the genuine thing.

Swofferd is just another of those cardboard characters who come and go and are quickly forgotten, or, if remembered at all, only because of their contemptible activities.

Thursday, November 10, is the Marine Corps 230th birthday. Take a minute out then to say a prayer for all Marines, living or dead. You owe them that much Happy Birthday, fellow Marines.

And Semper Fi!