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QPME: The Lessons and Legacy of General John A. Lejeune

FY2015 Q1: The Lessons and Legacy of General John A. Lejeune. This guide is intended as a research tool for the benefit of Marine Corps Unit PME Coordinators. It is not a mandatory part of the PME requirement.

The Lessons and Legacy of Lieutenant General John A. Lejeune

Throughout our history, perhaps no other Marine has made such a lasting impact as LtGen John Lejeune.  Gen Lejeune served nine years as Commandant (1920-1929) during which time he worked tirelessly to preserve our national reputation, earned during World War I and the “Banana Wars” in Central America and the Caribbean, and to establish the Corps as the preeminent expeditionary force which would prove invaluable to the Country in the future. 

Prescient in his ability to anticipate the future of combat on a strategic level, he recognized that the Marine Corps must focus its attention on “the maintenance, equipping and training of its expeditionary force so that it will be in instant readiness to support the Fleet in the event of war.” Gen Lejeune built on a culture rich in tradition, values, and dedicated to professional development throughout his tenure as Commandant. In 1926, he wrote in the Naval Institute’s Proceedings,

"The Marine Corps as a whole is now better prepared to carry out its mission than for many years. The intensive program of professional education, which has been carried out consistently since the year 1920, has greatly increased the military attainments of our commissioned personnel. The enlisted force has settled down after the upheaval of the World War and is now well disciplined, well trained, and well equipped. Finally, the part the Marine Corps will be expected to play in the next war, the tasks it will be assigned and the duties it will perform, are clearly set forth, and well understood; it follows, therefore, that our preparation in peace for our duty in war can be, and is more intelligent and more effective than ever before."

It is this goal, “that our preparation in peace for our duty in war can be, and is more intelligent and more effective than ever before,” that influenced the decision to choose the life and service of LtGen John Lejeune as the first Quarterly Theme for FY2015.  The resources provided on the CPRL website are but a glimpse into his life and times.  His 36 years of service provide countless examples of selflessness, his professional pursuit of excellence, and his dedication to life-long learning. 

Marines are highly encouraged to research and study LtGen Lejeune’s storied career; read his letters, study the battles he fought both in war and garrison, and reflect on the timeless leadership lessons he espoused and practiced. 

Our study of Gen Lejeune’s life and career will help us better understand why he sincerely believed, “This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.”   


Generals Smedley D. Butler and John A. Lejeune at Griffith Stadium,
Washington, DC, 1923

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