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Ayn Rand once wrote that it was either “fate or irony... to be born, of all countries on Earth in the one least suitable for a fanatic of individualism, Russia.” My story is the direct opposite. Call it emphasizing the obvious that a fierce egoist like myself was born in the capital of the First State on an Air Force base in the United States of America. And that was just the beginning. By choice, I chose to serve in the United States Marine Corps. To take those polar opposites together, one must know that no unknown or unknowable was involved in Miss Rand’s birth or my own. She chose to come to America to facilitate her life as a rationally selfish human being. I decided to become a Marine because I wanted to not become human chattel.
That I compare myself to a once in two thousand year genius is rather daunting. But I am proud to say that I am only concerned with the essentials and similarities that a mastermind like Miss Rand shares with me. Our love and deep respect for the United States Declaration of Independence, skyscrapers, and novels with a clear plot and heroes remain just a few similarities between Miss Rand and yours truly.
I don’t call it luck but fortune that I was born in Dover, Delaware, United States. Because Miss Rand’s journey was fraught with peril and that she escaped the cemetery of Russia, she should be held up as a heroic being in her own right. My time in the USMC was like flying at seven hundred miles an hour. The rush that I received knowing that I was defending my own freedom seemed to coincide with all of Ayn Rand’s writings. As I have retired from the Corps, I have gained more information on Miss Rand and what she represented. Her ability to write and speak with such clarity is something that I aspire to do every day. Free will is at the forefront of Miss Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Our disparity in places of birth mean nothing. It is our web of decisions that count only. From her marriage to Frank O’Connor for fifty years to her production of heroes in her fiction and fact-based opinion in her nonfiction, Miss Rand etched into the rational mind a roadmap for physical and spiritual energy.
Miss Rand also said that the United States is “the only moral country in the history of the world.” Despite the errors in the US military, the goal for service members is to serve and protect their own self-interest. It was worth it to me to serve as an active duty Marine. In its relatively short history, America has become a bright beacon for the world. While other countries have been inhabited by man for centuries, America is comparatively in its youth. In that short span of time, the United States has been involved in wars that have cost over a million American lives. But they did not die in vain if they wanted to live in freedom. Miss Rand held a deep respect for the military and all those who served not out of sacrifice but for their own lives.
My relationship with the Marines extended to rejecting those fallacies and vicious lies that unselfishness, selfless service, and sacrifice are at the crux of the American armed forces. I actually held in my mind and confessed during basic training that I wanted to improve myself. And so I did. I bought every piece of Ayn Rand’s writing that could fit on the shelf in my cramped room. I observed the astonished reactions of senior Marines to titles like The Virtue of Selfishness (1964). But I continued in the name of the Corps and as a veteran to uphold the thought of Ayn Rand.
The amount of pleasure that I experienced reading Miss Rand’s works motivated, guided, and flame threw napalm on my soul. Now, as an Objectivist and retired Marine, I can say that the greatest choice that I ever made was to become One of the Few, One of the Proud. (And I mean a pride that is against all pretenses of humility.) It would not, however, have been possible without Ayn Rand’s words. Whatever errors and wrongheadedness that occupy the branches of the US military, there exists the ethos of seeking to preserve the liberties that Americans enjoy. But it is for the self. Everything that I did in the Corps was for me. And anything that I can claim as someone educating or instructing me was a trade of value for value. So, there was never any conflict of interest. As a veteran, I have been able to delve even further into Ayn Rand’s literature and philosophy. It is with great pleasure that I am able to say just how much Miss Rand’s words have positively affected my life.
On this Independence Day weekend, I would like to thank the Founding Fathers who devised the greatest political document in human history, and to Miss Rand for completing the idea in the novel, Atlas Shrugged (1957). So, for a true American like Ayn Rand, I am more than happy to know that America is forever richer because of her ideals and the fact that they are guarded by the soldiers, sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen, and Marines.