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A Message to Garcia Written by Elbert Hubbard

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A Message to Millennials

A Message to Garcia is an edifying essay written by Elbert Hubbard, published in 1899. This inspirational essay deplores “the imbecility of the average man”, or the unwillingness of the average person to simply concentrate on something and do it. Hubbard discusses the difficulties of finding someone who will obey instructions without question, work diligently without supervision, or take initiative to overcome obstacles.                                                        In A Message to Garcia the setting takes place in a time where tensions between the United States and Spanish-controlled Cuba are strained. President McKinley thought it necessary to seek alliance with the rebellious presence in Cuba; therefore, an officer by the name of Rowan was tasked with delivering a message to the leader of the insurgents: Garcia. Hubbard illustrates this anecdote not for the story, but to praise the actions of the man, Rowan, within the story. Hubbard focuses on the fact that Rowan is a person that quietly takes the missive without needless questions, and whose only intention is to go out and deliver the message. This seamlessly relates to the discipline that all Marines must have; the instant willingness and obedience to orders. I find this to be one of the most important attributes the Marine Corps teaches, because this fundamental idea determines the difference between life and death in combat. However, this also relates to society as a whole; instead of constantly questioning authority, self-pitying, and being in a state of oppressive superstition, the “average man” should be willing to follow instructions without the clutter of hearsay or idiotic questions.

Hubbard explains in his essay his discontent with the plethora of sympathy felt for those who needlessly struggle and the lack thereof for the men who “succeed… against all odds.” He also states that his sympathy is better placed in the man that does his work when the “boss” is away, as well as when he is home. This idea, or trait, directly reflects the value of integrity in the Marine Corps. The importance of integrity in the Marine Corps in paramount, because this trait of honesty and dedication sets the foundation for what it means to be a U.S. Marine. Also, integrity is a trait that in everyday society seems to grow smaller and less significant by the day. The lack of integrity is a direct correlation to the corruption within our relationships, our communities, and even our government.                                                                                        It is well known that success, in anything worth succeeding in, will not come overnight. Hubbard elaborates on this by stating that we should shed a tear for the men who strive to carry on a great enterprise; whose lives, without this initiative, would be filled with hunger and homelessness. Another of Hubbard’s main points once again fits together flawlessly with ideals of the Marine Corps. Whether a Marine seeks success in combat or success in a simple given task, he or she will not find it without initiative. To take initiative is to have a willingness to get something done no matter how small or large, easy or difficult the task may be; and doing whatever is necessary to overcome obstacles and accomplish the task at hand. This too is a trait which seems to be fading upon the arrival of the “Trophy Generation”. Too often I have seen everyday examples of “average men” who bemoan having to put forth any effort which might cause them to leave their comfort zone or safe place even the slightest bit to accomplish a goal. Instead, the “average man” seeks for a handout and is caught dumbfounded when he or she receives no reward for having done no work.        



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