The History And Tradition Of Recreation

In the Marine Corps culture, history, legend and honoring predecessors are an important part of life and one of the reasons Marines share an ageless, mysterious bond. Some call it esprit de corps, but it really defies explanation or labeling. It is handed down from one generation of Marine to the next.

A Bond From The Past To Build A Future

In the Marines’ very inception into the Corps, whether boot camp or officers’ candidate school, officers and enlisted alike study important battles and the legendary Marine heroes who fought them, such as John Basilone, Alfred Cunningham, Chesty Puller, Dan Daly, Carlos Hathcock, Ray Davis. These names may not mean much to most Americans, but to Marines they are icons, indeed, they are the Marine Corps. They are names that today’s Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan and throughout the world take into battle with them. They hear the true-life stories of the heroism, camaraderie, selflessness and sacrifice their predecessors demonstrated so they can be proud of the U.S. Marine title, and want to emulate their example.

Some might call this outdated thinking propaganda or brainwashing … It’s not! It is a timeless phenomenon that provides a basis upon which new members of a unique society can share a bond from the past to build new bonds for the future. It makes us understand that we will always be part of something much bigger than ourselves (because once a Marine, always a Marine).

That phone call from John Davis, a man of the Greatest Generation, made me realize that I had spoken to an icon, and that I am missing a sense of history and tradition of the parks and rec field. I am now motivated to learn more about the genesis of the parks and rec world. I’ll be sharing my findings with you.

Mr. Davis did write me a letter, and shared some common-sense, down-to-earth wisdom from his perspective about parks and recreation. I’ll be sharing it with you in the next column. If you have some interesting recreation stories to share, send them on to me via the e-mail below. History is built one legend at a time.

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, is Director of Leisure Services (parks, recreation, library) in Peachtree City, Ga. Contact him at (770) 631-2542 or e-mail

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  1. Big Things, Small Packages
  2. Pearls Of Wisdom
  3. Leadership By Wandering Around
  4. Showing The Colors
  5. Parks and Rec As A Sit-Com?

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