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Letters to the editor: 'Semper Fortis'

May. 9, 2013 - 01:53PM   |  
Some readers stood behind Navy Secretary Ray Mabus' 'Semper Fortis' as a strong motto for the fleet, but others saw it as too derivative of the Marines' motto — and offered suggestions of their own.
Some readers stood behind Navy Secretary Ray Mabus' 'Semper Fortis' as a strong motto for the fleet, but others saw it as too derivative of the Marines' motto — and offered suggestions of their own. (Thomas Brown/Staff)
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Editor’s note: Navy Times has received significant reader feedback regarding Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ use of “Semper Fortis” as a motto for the Navy [“Mabus has motto if Navy wants one,” April 22]. Readers can continue the discussion on Navy Times’ Facebook page and at (Keyword search: “motto”). A sampling of the responses:


An official motto could do nothing but help the Navy at this point. We’ve been fragmented and falling apart for years. With budget cuts already taking place, sailors being kicked out left and right, and rates constantly being revamped, who would want to join the Navy?

When I joined, [the recruitment slogan] was “Accelerate your life.” Now it’s “A global force for good.” Pick one and stick with it. If we can stand for one thing, maybe we can stand together. Semper Fortis!

MA2 Katie Montgomery / Springfield, Ill.

“Semper Fortis” is a great and appropriate motto for the Navy — “always strong” (or “always courageous”) is spot on.

I say adopt it and keep it. The Marines have never changed their motto and have never gotten caught up with finding catchy new slogans every few years.

“America’s Navy: a global force for good” — what a bunch of crap! The Navy’s first and most important job is defense; we are war fighters.

Lt. Guy K. Smalt (ret.) / Enon, Ohio

I have always believed that the Navy should have a motto of its own and “Semper Fortis” seems to fit the bill. I can foresee the Marines accusing the Navy of “copying” them once again, but that’s the Marine Corps.

“A global force for good” is a mouthful to exchange with a shipmate. I think that if the Navy starts using [Mabus’ motto], it will wear well with the fleet.

PN1 Roy P. Shelton (ret.) / Fort Worth, Texas

Secretary Mabus has it right. It’s about time the Navy meets the professional standards of the Marine Corps.

I have been using “Semper Fortis” when signing emails, especially with my mates in the Marine Corps. It is a motto to be proud of.

My recommendation, Mr. Secretary, is put pen and ink to paper and make it so.

GMCM Stanley K. Summers (ret.) / Kalkaska, Mich.


“Semper Fortis” sucks. It’s too much like the Marines.

The Navy motto should encompass the uniqueness of the Navy and its traditional/historic language. The Navy motto is, and always had been, right there under our noses. It should be “Turn to” or “Squared away.”

Lt. Dennis P. McIntire / Zanesville, Ohio

I say no to SECNAV’s suggestion of “Semper Fortis” because “Semper” has become synonymous with Marines. It does nothing to identify with the Navy.

I suggest SECNAV consider honoring President Reagan. Try “Peace through strength,” a slogan dating back to the Roman Empire and popularized by Reagan in the 1980s when he promoted the 600-ship Navy.

The phrase is just as strong today as it was 33 years ago.

JOC (SW) Robert “Bob” Remington (ret.) / Pensacola, Fla.


We need a “forever” motto that we can bump fists to, one that doesn’t change like our uniforms with each new CNO.

I suggest [we borrow part of] the title of the classic book I read in my naval orientation class at UCLA almost 50 years ago: “Sea power” — very cool, and to the point.

If necessary, add “— dude” at the end to please boomers and millenials alike.

Alfred Thayer Mahan would be honored.

Cmdr. Bruce D. Webster (ret.) / Newport Beach, Calif.


What’s wrong with using plain English? I think “Always strong” or “Not self, but country” are both good. Let’s not muck it up with Latin knockoffs.

America speaks plainly, as “A global force for good” indicates, even though I think that’s kinda schmaltzy. “Good” what? Sounds kinda wimpish.

JOC (SW/AW/NP) Dennis L. Argyrakis (ret.) / Waukegan, Ill.

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