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A tribute to a fallen Marine
Jan. 25, 2016

By Gabe Licht

Friday was an emotional day.

The Marines Corps conducted a memorial service for 12 fallen Marines, including 2010 Delano High School graduate Dillon Semolina.

I didn’t know Dillon. Reading about him over the past week and viewing the memorial service made me wish that I had.

It’s clear that his family was the most important thing to him. His friend, Sgt. Christian Morales, made sure to mention that. That eulogy of sorts also painted a picture of Dillon as a fun-loving and loyal friend.

Those are characteristics I can respect.

Something else that stuck out to me was how Dillon taught his comrade that “the hard-headed Marine way of barking orders and yelling until you’re red in the face isn’t always the best way to get through to people.” That leads me to believe that Dillon worked to get to know people on a personal level and find out the best way to relate to them. He saw the merit of doing things the “Marine way,” but also acknowledged there were times when a different approach would yield better results for all involved.

Once again, that is very respectable.

In addition to Morales’ words, I’ve found other signs that Dillon was well-respected.

One of those signs is the fact that more than 3,000 people shared the GoFundMe page established for Dillon’s family, with 370 people donating more than $16,000 to help them. Many of those who donated also took the time to share a kind thought or two with Dillon’s family.

Something else that stuck out to me that reflects well on not only Dillon, but his fellow Marines as well, is that more than 4,700 tuned into the live-stream of the memorial service on YouTube, not counting thousands more who undoubtedly viewed the service through other venues. I know I was not the only person watching who did not personally know those involved.

Even though I didn’t know Dillon, I found myself getting emotional. During the final roll call, I found myself wiping tears from my eyes. Each Marine’s name was called three times. It didn’t matter how loud that call got, those Marines are not coming back. That really made the finality of it all set in for me.

I can’t imagine how his family feels. I’ve lost loved ones, but never in such a sudden manner.

They may never read this, but if they do, I want them to know they are in my thoughts and prayers, as is everyone who has lost a loved one in such a tragic way.

In closing, I want to share a portion of Ecclesiastes 3, which was shared during the service: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens . . .”

That includes a time for good people to be taken from this earth. Though we may never understand that timing, I pray for a peace that passes all understanding for those left behind.

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