Carpe Diem: The Meaning of Semper Fi

USMC motto - Semper Fi

Marines Semper Fidelis 

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Whether you are a Marine or not, most Americans know the term "Semper Fi." The Semper Fi meaning is abbreviated from the Latin phrase "Semper Fidelis." The phrase and the Semper Fi meaning have been wholeheartedly adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps. A Latin term meaning "always faithful," is proudly proclaimed by the Marine Corps, this motto is displayed on the eagle symbol of the Marines. Always faithful is part of the heartfelt phrase that is enjoined into a Marine's total life. 

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Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem is a Latin phrase that means "seize the day." It is one of the most popular phrases in history. This phrase has been said by many people such as Horace, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and John Lennon. Carpe Diem is used to motivate people to seize everyday moments and make the best out of them. The meaning of this phrase can be interpreted as "make sure you don't miss your opportunity because time can pass quickly". Carpe Diem: has been said by many throughout history like Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Lennon in order to motivate people to seize everyday moments and make the best out of them.

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USMC Greeting

Semper Fi is a greeting that Marines exchange with each other in brotherhood, whether in training, on the war field, or just as a term of encouraging each other.  Where did the Latin phrase come from, what is its history?

Its earliest use was symbolized throughout Europe on many family coats of arms. From 1369 to the present, many European towns and cities have this motto emboldened on coats of armor associated with generational families, especially family members who served during wartime eras.

Naturally, as European colonists migrated to America during the 1600s, Latin phrases also followed, including the Semper Fidelis coat of arms symbols and mottos. Latin was once considered part of the romance language in Europe.

Many of its phrases are modern phrases we use quite often in everyday language. Recognizable phrases are used in nearly every part of our educational system, the legal system, literature, the U.S. monetary dollar bill, and more. For example (yes, this is Latin also), Latin terms we use often include words or terms like "vice versa," "et cetera," "per se," and "carpe diem."

Motto History

The United States Marine Corps adopted the motto "Semper Fidelis" in 1883. It was introduced and chosen due to Colonel Charles McCawley. Colonel McCawley was a dedicated and celebrated Commander of the Marine Corps.

Also, in the same year, songwriter John Phillip Sousa composed a marching song titled Semper Fidelis. He dedicated the song to the Marine Corps because he was the bandleader for the U.S. Marine Corps

U.S. Marine historians are not fully clear on why Commander McCawley chose Semper Fidelis as its leading motto. It is noted that Semper Fidelis was associated with the commander who preceded McCawley - . Commander Jacob Zeilin. Zeilin worked on designing uniforms for the Marines that at a glance symbolized honor..

Commander Zeilin wanted a uniform that also exemplified an insignia of dignity and strength. As the Commander of the Marine Corps during the early 1800s, Zeilin floated the suggestion of the phrase Semper Fidelis, as well as the present-day insignia of an eagle, a globe, and an anchor.

The Marine Corps has had two previous mottos for the Corps. But it was not until Commander McCawley took command did the Semper Fidelis slogan take hold. To the Commander and other leaders, Semper Fidelis represents a term meaning honor forever which became the spirit of the phrase.

This is the story floating around and the Marines are sticking to it! Presently, the Semper Fi meaning and greeting remains the motto tradition of the Corps which they extend to each other and what a civilian may say back to a Marine.

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