Semper Fi Hall was the setting this past weekend for a Gratitude Meal and a “Hanging Up the Boots Toast” to honor the end of active duty service for USMC Captain James R.R. Van Eerden (2013-2021) and his wife Emily. Recent days have also marked the end of active duty service for USMC Captain Ryan D. Crawford (2014-2021) and his wife Elizabeth, and US Army Staff Sergeant Jonathan A. Schneider (2015-2021) and his wife Erin, all of whom were honored and toasted as well at a special meal served in gratitude.

We include the wives of these servicemen because we have learned the extent to which military service involving married couples is a matter of joint (husband-and-wife) service, borne out of a shared sense of duty and a willingness to sacrifice beyond the reach of many of us. James Allen said it well:

No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.

As a wedding gives each witness a moment to recount their own past or prospective vows, so does this moment give us opportunity to consider the vows connected to our own citizenship, and that our rights flow out of duties kept. We can reconsecrate ourselves to our best hopes and highest callings, and echo the aspirations of Daniel Webster two centuries ago:

May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!

We salute each of the six of you, with gratitude to God for your service to our nation in advancing justice, freedom and other virtues for your fellow citizens – and for people seeking the same all around the world.

It was a duty kept at no small sacrifice. #SemperFidelis



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