Roy Exum: An Apology And A Video

Monday, March 25, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I’ve got a bunch to catch on today but the first thing on my list is to offer a sincere apology to the men and women – past, present, and future – of the United States Marine Corps. I know of few organizations in the world that I respect, behold, and adore but in a salute I wrote to the revered General James “Mad Dog” Mattis on Sunday, I breached the Corps protocol.

The headline read, “Semper Fidelis, Mad Dog’  Mattis” and since I had no idea that the words “Semper Fi” and the truer saying, “Saepe Expertus, Semper Fidelis, Fratres Aeterni” were only to be spoken by one Marine to another – that those who never served in the Corps should ever repeat or abuse them, I am apologetic and ask forgiveness.

The word “Semper Fidelis” to me one of the greatest vows in the world. The Latin translates to “Always Faithful” because that’s what Marines truly are. In the longer translation, the words “Saepe Expertus” mean “Often Tested” and the words “Fratres Aeterni” mean “Brothers Forever.” Put them together and that’s what makes the Corps: “Often tested … always faithful … brothers forever.”

I used the words to harken all Marines to General Mattis’ exit. I had no right to walk on such sacred ground. That said, on Friday when our Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, paid an earnest tribute to Gen. Mattis he did the same thing yet he already knew better.

Sec. Hagel once served as an Army sergeant in Vietnam and knew well that only a Marine can say the words and when he does, it can only be to another Marine. They paid for that privilege for centuries in blood and in valor to keep us free.

But what did Hagel do as he turned over the colors to the vaunted warrior? “Now some of you may believe, and I know Gen. Mattis does, that an Army infantryman is not worthy of the words ‘Semper Fi’ passing from his lips. Well, the hell with it, general. I am the Secretary and I say ‘Semper Fi’ and thank you.”

Gen. Mattis – whose call name in battle over the radio was “Chaos” – was delighted.

* * *


I don’t know whose voice narrates the spectacular new tribute to Man’s Best Friend but ever since a friend shared it with me late Friday afternoon, I have become mesmerized by the most artful voice-over performance I believe I have ever heard. The tape is just two minutes long but the unknown man’s timing, his inflection and his majestic delivery assures me he has read Shakespeare, gone to an opera performance or two, and absolutely adores the subject of which he speaks.

Since the tape was released last midweek, nearly a million people have watched “Woof.” The pictures will melt you but any speaker, singer or lover of language should carefully notice that sometimes the orator speaks slowing, at others in a gallop. Please take a moment to salute one of the best videos I’ve ever seen. I can promise I have now watched it over 20 times, delighted by the pictures and relishing each word in what is most nearly a song.

Oh, and on a personal note, every time I watch it I reach for a Kleenex. I’m sure it’s my darn allergies.

* * *


Have you looked at this month’s calendar and realized we get an extra weekend this month? In March we have five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays. Wow! The folks at say it will happen again in 2022 – not until 238 years later like some Internet rabble is reporting. “The first three weekdays of any 31-day month are repeated 5 times within that month. So, any month that has 31 days and begins on a Friday has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, and 5 Sundays. Actually, a calendar month that contains 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays occurs nearly every year.”

So how does a recurring calendar work? “Every year has 7 months with 31 days. Each of these 7 months has three weekdays of which there are 5. There are 7 different days a month can start on. So on average, over time, each combination happens once yearly. But for each individual year, there are only 6 of 7 combinations, and two 31-day months start on the same weekday. In a common/regular year, January and October look the same. In a leap year, January and July look the same.”

* * *


A six-year-old goes to the hospital with her mother to visit her Grandpa. When they get to the hospital, she runs ahead of her mother and bursts into her Grandpa’s room. "Grandpa, Grandpa," she says excitedly, "as soon as my mother comes into the room, make a noise like a frog!"

"What?" said her groggy Grandpa.

"Make a noise like a frog because my mom said that as soon as you croak, we're all going to Disney World!”

* * *


A guy stopped at a local gas station and, after filling his tank, he paid the bill and bought a soft drink. He stood by his car to drink his Coca-Cola and watched a couple of men working along the roadside. One man would dig a hole two or three feet deep and then move on. The other man came along behind him and filled in the hole.

While one was digging a new hole, the other was 25 feet behind filling in the hole. The men worked right past the guy with the soft drink and went on down the road.

"I can't stand this," said the man, tossing the can into a trash container and heading down the road toward the men. "Hold it, hold it," he said to the men. "Can you tell me what's going on here with all this digging and refilling?"

"Well, we work for the government and we're just doing our job," one of the men said. "But one of you is digging a hole and the other fills it up. You're not accomplishing anything. Aren't you wasting the taxpayers' money?"

"You don't understand, mister," one of the men said, leaning on his shovel and wiping his brow. "Normally there's three of us: me, Elmer and Leroy. I dig the hole, Elmer sticks in the tree, and Leroy here puts the dirt back. Elmer's job's been cut... so now it's just me an' Leroy.”

* * *

Yes, next Sunday we will celebrate Easter but for those who wonder what happened to the Masters Golf Tournament, since many have been played on Easter Sunday afternoons, don’t fret. The ever-stunning event will be held this year from Thursday, April 11 through Sunday, April 16.

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