The Few. The Proud.

marinesIn less than 2 weeks, one of my sons begins boot camp with the Marines. Let me say right off that I’m as proud as I can be of him. He’s joining for the right reasons; it’s been his decision all along and it was not made lightly.

Gladly, and with a full heart, we let him go, into the service of his and our country. Did I mention that my wife and I are immensely proud of him? Oh, yeah, I did.

Eighteen years ago he was learning to walk. Now he’s going to take on one of the toughest challenges anyone willingly shoulders. Becoming a U.S. Marine.

Now, how did the Marines “sell” him on entering their branch of the service?

I got to watch the process up close and personal. And let there be no doubt – presenting an elite challenge is a strong message, especially to a young man.

For a certain slice of the population, striving to be the “cream of the crop” is an almost irresistible goal. The top. The elite. The first. The few. The proud.

We all know how companies (like Apple) succeed by getting people to possess and use a “cream of the crop” product. It’s borrowed status, and it’s an incredibly effective marketing strategy. But the Marines present people with the opportunity to become the elite (see this ad for their brand position – thanks for pointing it out, @TomMartin)

And for parents who want to see their children excel, yes, the idea of them taking on an elite challenge is also compelling. I’m sold. What parent doesn’t say to his/her child, in one form or another, “Be all that you can be!” (I know, that’s Army, but still…)

Of course, there are risks and dangers in the military, just as there are in any drive here in the battlefields highways of New Jersey. But there are no ads during football games in the fall extolling the elite status of urban commuters. I don’t see young men hungering to prove themselves as just one of many in a faceless crowd. Some people are driven to reach the top, and…putting on my marketing hat now…those may be the customers you should be pursuing most vigorously. If you have something elite to offer.

The Marines look for the ones with that glint in their eye, the ones who want to be the cream of the crop. Do you? Do your customers see themselves as the few, the proud? Or, perhaps even more importantly, do your employees?

Some people just want everything easy. Others want to excel. They’ll tend to be the faithful ones.

Semper Fi.

DaveNateDadsmThe Marine recruit, lined up with brother and Dad sporting “solidarity” military haircuts!


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

19 Responses to The Few. The Proud.

  1. Well chosen by your son. I’ve struggled with what the military’s been ordered to do over the years, but never why the men and women who serve do it.

    Knowing that there is a service that needs to be done is one thing, but doing it is something else. My dad served two tours in Vietnam as a Marine, but fate worked against me , or I worked with fate, and I never made it to the military service.

    Now, my soon-to-be 17 year old daughter wants to fly jets for the Navy… so you and I need to talk a bit about kids and military service 🙂

    Hopes and thoughs and support for keeping him as safe as he can be heading his way.

    Semper fi.

  2. Best wishes to your son! As well as to you and your wife. What an exciting and perhaps anxious time for your entire family (am I correct that you have 5 children?) There is nothing more noble than truly wanting to serve and protect our amazing country.


  3. Richard R says:


    Congratulations to you and to your son. It’s amazing watching them grow, providing all the guidance and support you can in order to help them make the right decisions for themselves (which are not necessarily the same decision you or I might make, and in those cases it’s an even more commendable nod on you as parents).

    In this case, it seems your son has made a truly honorable and honorably true decision to join the Marines. Again, huge congratulations!

    As for the rest of your post – I eagerly look forward the developing discussion regarding the concept and allure of being the “cream of the crop” — or even striving to *define* the cream of the crop, as some inevitably do…

  4. John Mack says:

    Congrats and best wishes for your son.

  5. Greg Rust says:

    Steve, As a parent, I have walked in your foot steps. Last Friday, after spending 2.5 hours in a gym at FT Carson, Colorado, my son walked in with 400 of his fellow Army buddies ending their one year deployment in Iraq. He also felt compelled at the end of his second year in college to “go and make a difference”. Standing there watching them walk in to the song “Proud to be an American” was one of the proudest moments of my life and as I write this I still tear up. It seems like just yesterday when he told us of his decision with such conviction and passion. I remember family members asking me why I didn’t try to talk him out of it, I mean, we are at war. I kindly remarked to all of them how wrong it would be to rob someone of their passion and beliefs and for a moment tried to remember when I had experienced such passion.

    It seems our country is more appreciative and grateful for our soldiers and the sacrifices they make. Congratulations to your son for examining his soul and making such an important committment.
    Good luck and God speed to your son and to your family.

  6. If I could, I would give a huge hug to you and your son right now! Thank you for being a strong enough father to let him make his choice, and for him being a strong enough man to make that choice. I

    am so happy to hear that despite the current government, some people still believe in the strength of this country and are willing to fight for it! My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

  7. Tom Martin says:


    First — congrats. Good to see smart young men are still stepping up and that smart parents are letting them. I hope I’m as brave when my boys get to that age and make a similar decision.

    Love this Marine ad. Probably one of the best copy lines ever written. Marines have always had the best ads — they know who they are: the elite. And for at least as long as I’ve known (my dad was a Marine in Vietnam) they’ve never once wavered from that brand position.

  8. Thank you, all, for your messages of support. They mean a lot to us (including David, who is itching to go…)

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  10. Bob Holliday says:

    After serving 20 years in the Air Force, it still amazes me that some young people feel such a strong sense of service to the defense of our great country and that those without that sense of service can’t understand why someone does.
    Best of Luck to your son and all those that continue to serve in all branches of our military.

  11. Karen Swim says:

    Steve, my chest swelled with pride as I read this post. Congratulations to your son, and you and your wife! The Marines is a proud tradition of the best of the best and it speaks volumes about your son who elected in a time where people fear challenge, he embraced it boldly. Of course, my prayers are with him as well for safety as he serves.

  12. Jeanne Male says:

    Steve, your words were so meaningful and made me reflect upon the decision process in letting go with a full heart! I’ve always had mixed feelings about military service. Sadly, my next door neighbor lost his life serving in Iraq but happily, my sister just celebrated her 20th anniversary in The Air Force. She has served in The Gulf War, Afghanistan and is currently completing a year in Korea. Of course, there have been occasions to worry and pray but I can bear witness to how much her USAF service has done for her personally and professionally. I’m enormously proud of her as I know you must be of David and share the deepest admiration for those who choose such a noble path.

    Thanks for sharing this momentous occasion in the life of David and “Team W”! The photo made me grin from ear-to-ear; you guys looked handsome and proud sporting your newly acquired high and tight cuts! Semper Fi in pride and prayer, David.

  13. Cam Beck says:

    Welcome to the family, Steve!

    I have difficulty imagining the emotions you must be feeling right now, but with a grateful heart I extend my congratulations to you and your wife for helping to instill in your son a spark that drives him to excellence and service to others.

    You done good. All of you.

    Semper fi.

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  15. Jubaer Ahmed Leon says:

    Reaqlly proud to knjow the heroic jobs. it was my dream to sarve my nations to join Navy.

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  17. Steve – so proud for you and your wife. A big hug across cyberspace and I know your son will be everything he can be.

  18. Terri Andrews says:

    I’m the daughter of a retired Air Force colonel and the wife of a police sergeant. I understand and applaud anyone who chooses military service. Those who aren’t familiar with the many sacrifices these individuals and their families make will never truly understand the commitment. Happy graduation to your son and his entire unit.

  19. Pam Marinko says:

    I am so proud of you and the other men and women in our military for defending our great country. At the same time, I am awed and humbled by your courage and self-sacrifice.

    Thank you for your service and for allowing me, my family, and countless others to live in freedom. We will keep you in our hearts and prayers…every day.

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