Home > Uncategorized > Gunny G: Semper Fi Does Not Mean Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful)

Gunny G: Semper Fi Does Not Mean Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful)

Semper Fi Vs. “SEMPER FIDELIS”!

I recall vividly a day in 1953 at Tent Camp #3,
at CJHP, when M/Sgt Tony Virginia pointed out to
me that “Semper Fi” did not mean Semper Fidelis;
it was not an abbreviation of Semper Fidelis, nor
did it have anything positive in common with
Semper Fidelis. He then went further into detail
regarding just what Semper Fi was and meant. It
had apparently come into use with the influx of
great numbers of new Marines during WW II into
what had been a very small U.S. Marine Corps.

The Top stated that, in many cases, promotions
had become much faster than previously experienced
for peacetime Marines. At one point early in
WW II, Marine enlisted began to wear chevrons
only on the left sleeve, due to a policy of
conservation of supplies. He advised that the term
Semper Fi came into being with a gesture
reminiscent of the old Italian salute, and he
demonstarted this by slapping his right hand over
the left upper arm (over the chevron) while he
exclaimed the words “Semper Fi!”
This was obviously intended as an obscene term
and gesture. The above noted conversation with
Top Virginia, now more than 50+
years ago made an impression on me.

Though I have sometimes used both the correct
Semper Fidelis as well as, sometimes, using the,
what has become the usual, Semper Fi, I have
always preferred Semper Fidelis, and for obvious
reasons.

CONTINUES…


People in general, and Marines too, pretty much
just accept the current customs, explanations, if any, and norms as they
are without question. Sometimes, however,
something occurs which calls attention to certain
things that we all have just accepted as is. I
think this is one of those times, and for myself,
I choose to go with Semper Fidelis, and pass by
the (now traditional, incorrect as it may be)
Semper Fi.

I have recently noted with interest the following
posted to the Fifth Marine Division website…

“ANOTHER THING: WE ARE TRYING TO GET THE MARINES
TO USE THE PROPER
PHRASE/MOTTO OF THE U.S.M.C. AND THAT IS “SEMPER
FIDELIS” – “ALWAYS
FAITHFUL”.

NOT SEMPER FI – WHAT IN HELL IS ALWAYS “FI”..
WHAT DOES “FI’ MEAN??

USE SEMPER FIDELIS

DEAL OR NO DEAL

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT SEMPER FI MEANT IN THE
40’S AND 50’S, IT
MEANT THINGS LIKE I GOT MINE, BUDDY BOY, OR GET
F—-D, OR GO TO H–L
THATS AN INSULT TO YOUR FELLOW MARINES, AND IT IS
DEROGATORY.. WE
AREN’T WORRIED ABOUT BEING POLITICALY CORRECT,
BUT WE MUST HAVE
FAITH IN THE “BROTHERHOOD.”

MARINES CAN’T LIVE ON THAT KIND OF FOOD, NOT IN
TODAYS WORLD.. YOU
CAN’T GIVE A TERRORIST ANY KIND OF OPENING.

DON’T EVER FORGET THAT WE ARE A “BROTHERHOOD”,
AND THAT MEANS WE
NEED EACH OTHER, PERIOD.

ARE WE WORRIED, “HELL NO, WE ARE MARINES!.”

SO, DEAL OR NO DEAL..

SEMPER FIDELIS”

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/fifthmarinedivisionww2/message/3609>

~~~~~
And, too, there is….

“When did the term “Semper Fi,” an abbreviation?
of Semper Fidelis, come
into being?

Although not exactly recorded in history, one
story stands out.

Sometime shortly after the Beirut bombing in
1983, then–Commandant of
the Marine Corps General Paul X. Kelley was
visiting a wounded Marine
in the hospital. The lad shook the Commandant’s
hand and then
scribbled the words “Semper Fi” on a piece of
paper. It was the
Marine’s way of saying “Semper Fidelis.” Gen
Kelley became emotional
and said, “Lord, where do we get such men?” The
press picked up on it.

After that the term “Semper Fi” was given new
life and a new meaning
among Marines. However, for older Marines, the
term had a slightly
different meaning. Today while one understands
“Semper Fi” to be a
Marine greeting, in the past. “Semper Fi, Mac
meant “I got mine, how
you doing?”
Ref
Leatherneck magazine FAQ

http://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/faq.htm>

http://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/faq.htm> “
~~~~~
And the following is from one of my own previous
postings on this topic…

“Since then, although I have gone along with the
herd at times and used
the phrase, I have always preferred Semper
Fidelis, Always Faithful,
even though many generations of newer boots have
assumed it to be just
an abbreviation of Semper Fidelis. Sort of like
in the ’60s, when
“Sorry ‘Bout Dat” (meaning screw you…) also
came into use for the
general population.

See the book, Semper Fi, Mac by Henry Berry,
1982, Qill…About The
Title…where Berry says practically the same
thing as I have written
above. There are many more references to this in
many books, etc.

There have been many other bastardizations of
Marine words, words
like, “Gung Ho,” EGA for Eagle, Globe and Anchor
, etc.
With the big enlisted rank structure change of
1960 came the problem
of the troops calling one another by the
so-called E-numeric pay
grades Vs. their actual rank titles, e.g., E-4 for
Corporal, E-5 for
Sergeant, etc. And that problem persists to this
day. Gotta be careful about slang–amazing what
can become “tradition,” though
unintended and unofficial.

I take heart that you old salts are seeking to
bring this to light on
your 5th Marine Division website, and it is being
discussed.”
~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~
SEE ALSO: “Draw The Pay – Talk The Lingo!”

Semper Fidelis
Always Faithful

R.W. “Dick” Gaines
Gny Sgt USMC (Ret.)
1952–1972

~~~~~~~~~~

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  1. July 27, 2010 at 7:27 AM

    Dick
    for what this is worth, the phrase “Semper Fi, Mac” was insulting. A reply to another Marine who asked for a cigarette, a dollar, or whatever.
    “Horray for me and F–k you, I got mine, you get yours.”
    It could also mean “I got a buddy, good and true, F–k the son of a bitch befoe he F–ks you.”
    WWII saying and when I heard it said in the eighties by a Marine recruiter I laughed and he asked why. So I told him and he became VERY ANNOYED WITH ME.
    It is still insulting and I NEVER USE IT.
    Semper Fidelis, Mac.
    GB Clark, PFC (ret)
    ****************

    I served in the Marine Corps from May 1953 until Oct 1965. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I never have known of any derogatory use of the term “SEMPER FI”. As a mater of fact the most common use, has been between former Marines and or Marines in civilian clothes to acknowledge their bond with the Corps. In 1976 I joined the Army Reserves. The Corps wanted to make me a PFC after having served as both a Sergeant E4 and E5. My goal was retirement money and not glory. But my 3rd Marine Division patch on my right shoulder was always greeted with a “Semper Fi” by former Marines, of which there were many, regardless of rank. I never considered it an insult, and have bought many a beer for those greeted me in that manner.
    David J. Lindstedt, former Sgt of Marines, MSG U.S. Army (retired)
    ***********************

  2. February 4, 2012 at 10:53 AM
  3. Jeffrey Hardin
    April 29, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    Reblogged this on Jericho777's Blog.

  4. Jeffrey Hardin
    June 2, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Gunny, my Marine buddy’s I’m sharing this with, who many are still actively serving are enjoying this article…Thanks for posting it, Poppa said he had no idea of it’s history???

  5. June 2, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    Great !!!!!
    See also: Tom DiLorenzo’s additional writings on Lewrockwell.com…

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo-arch.html

    Dick G
    *****

  6. March 18, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Reblogged this on Give Me Liberty.

  7. March 18, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    I stand corrected

  8. April 7, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Hmnn … The English word: “cute” at one time meant: “bowlegged.” if what I’ve read is correct. Language is a slippery things, hard to corral and keep in bounds. As said, sometimes all we can do is run to catch up!

  9. May 25, 2014 at 5:07 PM
  1. July 27, 2010 at 7:10 AM
  2. July 27, 2010 at 7:16 AM
  3. March 18, 2011 at 6:35 AM
  4. March 18, 2011 at 6:35 AM
  5. March 18, 2011 at 6:35 AM
  6. May 13, 2011 at 11:15 AM
  7. June 27, 2012 at 2:48 PM
  8. June 27, 2012 at 2:48 PM
  9. December 18, 2012 at 9:58 AM
  10. February 2, 2013 at 8:49 AM
  11. April 4, 2013 at 2:37 PM
  12. September 26, 2013 at 10:34 PM

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