Sunday, July 29, 2007

Life lessons from a young Marine

I normally don't let too much of my personal life bleed into this blog, but this is a different case. My family is mourning the loss of my nephew, Corporal James Mazza Jr. Jimmy was a great kid who grew up to be an outstanding young man and a proud Marine. In his passing, I have come to realize some of the great lessons I can learn from him.

  1. Don't cry because it's over, smile because is happened - Jimmy loved that line, and I can now understand how well it truly fits. Life is way to short to spend it in regret. Enjoy the gift you have today fully - consume all the adventure and joy around you....
  2. If you are going to do something, do it all the way. Jimmy took every new challenge as an opportunity to kick it up a notch. He applied this in sport, study and service - every day. That is a view most of the best and brightest share and it is what makes them so successful.
  3. The bonds we form with those who share our struggle and adversity are stronger than any challenge. While Jimmy served only a few years with his unit, his Marine buddies were as close a family as the one he left at home. His buddies all came up here for his funeral and, as hard as it is for a former Army guy to say, these were some of the finest young men I have ever had the privilege to meet.
  4. The seeds we sow can bring a huge return, IF we sow and tend them well. Jimmy was a great person and he truly had a positive impact on just about every life he touched. His Dad is a Police Officer and his Mom is a Teacher. Together, the three of them have touched and saved or improved countless lives. When Jimmy died, the community responded in a way that can best be described as heroic. Sort of like the folks of Bedford Falls all chipping in to help George Bailey, the community delivered a crop of compassion from the seeds of service they planted.
  5. Organizations are only as strong as the devotion they show to their people. The Marines are an extraordinarily tough organization and they draw all the dirtiest and most dangerous missions, yet they are still viewed as elite and membership in their ranks is considered to be an privilege - hard to earn and with you for life if you get it. In seeing the respect, dignity and compassion with which they treat their fallen comrades and the families they leave behind, I now understand how the bonds of this fraternity are formed and the loyalty they share amongst themselves is a reward in itself.
So, with these lessons added to our arsenal and a long road of healing ahead, let's salute this exceptional Marine and try to continue the good fight.

Semper Fi


Wally Bock said...

I'm 61, a Marine from a different era. Many of my comrades are on the Vietnam Wall. My observations based on that experience and life since.

James will always be the wonder you remember even as age leaves its marks on you. Sario still has his lopsided 19-year-old smile. Captain Ayers is still running in the heat. Mike is still playing that guitar and drinking a beer.

Part of what we owe them is to dedicate some of what we do to their memory. Every day, I vow to do good work because so many friends never got the opportunity.

As the years go by, set aside time to remember him. Drink the warrior's toast: "To absent friends."

Remember that Marines guard the streets of heaven. It says so in our hymn.

Anonymous said...

I knew Jimmy as a great person. As a Navy Corpsman from his home town and his high school, and his swim team. This is truly a loss that tugs at my heart, and I am very sorry for what you, your family, and everyone back home now feels; because I feel the pain too. But taking a lesson from Jimmy, he has impacted my life, i'm going to use his memory to remind me everyday that all of my marines, and everyone else i give medical attention to, in the field or not, deserves everything that i can do for them, and even everything that i can't do, but i'll try my damndest to get it done. I am again very sorry for your loss, i hope some time Jimmy takes a second to watch over me if i need it.

Semper Fidelis Jimmy,
HN Canaris - 'Doc Naris'