High School, First Place Winner – 2016 Essay Winner
Teacher Michael Hanna

In our everyday lives, we continuously come face to face with decisions that either
directly or indirectly shape our future. We make these decisions based on where our moral
compass guides us. Every individual lives by their own code and morals. Among us live an
invincible group of people known as the Marines, who live by a code that they do not just follow,
but embody. The Marine Corps’ core values are honor, courage, and commitment and they live
by these whether they are an active or retired Marine. Their lives are shaped by three words that
seem so simple yet hold the sacrifice and duty of the men and women that serve our country.
Though these Marines live by this code, they are not the only ones. We see honor, courage, and
commitment in our everyday lives whether it be in acts of people or people them self.
Honor is seen every day by the service of every military member. They did not only bring
honor to themselves, but to their country. Similar to the way that the military honors America in
practicing pride and patriotism, many people honor their ancestors and culture everyday. The
United States of America is a melting pot for cultures all over the world. When immigrants came
to America long ago, they brought their traditions and practiced them every day. Years later,
their families followed their footsteps and did the same in honoring their traditions. Honor is
often a difficult word to define, yet honor is what we feel when we take pride in not only our
culture, but our country.

When looking for courage, many search throughout stories of heroes or fairy tales. We
can look towards our military and find courage in every individual serving our country. Yet what
we fail to acknowledge is that the easiest place for us to look for courage is within ourself.
Courage is the silent strength that drives us to persevere no matter how difficult the challenge we are facing may be. I found courage within myself while trying to cope with the loss of my
mother. Though the thought of waking up every day and continuing my tasks as if everything
was normal was daunting, I forced myself to keep going. At first I had believed that I was unable
to find bravery within myself, but as the time went on, I found that I was forcing myself to find
the courage within me to keep going.

Commitment is defined in multiple ways such as loyalty, dedication, or allegiance.
Commitment in the military is shown by the dedication to their duty and loyalty to their brothers
and sisters. We can find commitment in our mentors and teachers. I see commitment in the way
my teachers constantly strive to push my peers and I to not only achieve our goals, but to be the
best we can be. They are dedicated not only to positively impacting our lives, but other lives
around them. Our teachers are committed to bettering youth and motivating them to be all that
they can be.

Honor, courage, and commitment have been well known as the Marine Corps’ values.
Though no body may embody it as well as the Marines themself, we proudly incorporate these
values into our everyday lives, civilian or not. It does us well to remember the honor of our
country and culture, the courage inside of us, and the commitment other’s around us have each
day. We are able to live by a code of our own every day, and remember how important our own
values are. The Marine Corps’ proudly embodies their values in their everyday lives, and each of
us should embody ours proudly too.

Bio: 2016 Essay Contest Winner High School – FIRST PLACE: Moral Compass by Sagiao Saitupu, a grade 12 student from The Charter School of San Diego, San Diego, CA,  and submitted by teacher, Michael Hanna.

The Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation gratefully acknowledges the financial support of its education program, provided by San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) and Major Glenn Ferguson (USMC-retired).


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