Among my Marine Corps friends, the words of the Marines Hymn, “From the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli” are as sacred as any song ever heard at a Sunday morning church service. But do you know what those words mean?
The Halls of Montezuma are a reference to Chapultepec Castle, in Mexico City. Built in the late 1700s for the Spanish governor of Mexico City, the castle stands on Chapultepec Hill, once sacred to the Aztecs. The unofficial title Halls of Montezuma refers to the ancient Aztec leader, though the structure was built long after Montezuma’s death. During the Mexican War, in 1837, U.S. Marines captured Chapultepec Castle, the fabled Halls of Montezuma.
The shores of Tripoli refers to the 1804 Battle of Derne, during the First Barbary War, in which American Marines defeated a force of pirates who had been preying on merchant vessels throughout the Mediterranean Sea. It was the first recorded land battle of American forces overseas.
But you didn’t come here for a history lesson, did you? However, as the old saying goes, if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. But maybe that’s not all bad.
Last week, Somali pirates killed four Americans who they had taken hostage after capturing their yacht, off the coast of East Africa. Last Thursday, pirates also took a Danish family of four hostage after seizing their boat, and are threatening to kill them if their ransom demands are not met.
Even in the 21st Century, pirating is a thriving business in many parts of the world, and the Somalis are the worst of the worst, seizing hundreds of ships and thousands of crewmembers, then ransoming them off for millions of dollars. This is big business in that part of the world; wealthy investors back the pirates financially, and reap big rewards when ransoms are paid. Somali pirates are currently holding at least 660 hostages, and close to 50 ships.
In spite of patrols by warships and aircraft from several nations, the pirates have not slacked off in their attacks. If anything, they have increased their acts, and have become bolder in their threats to kill hostages. Why? Because they know that the world’s military powers are a reactionary force. They wait until the pirates attack, and then try to get to the scene and rescue hostages. It’s a big ocean, and they are hard to find, so the odds are with the pirates.
How long does the world have to put up with this nonsense from a bunch of ill-equipped, uneducated Third World thugs? When pirates seized the American-flagged Maersk Alabama and took its captain hostage in 2009, Navy SEALS shot three of them dead, and put an end to the standoff.
Three bullets cost a lot less than the millions of dollars the pirates are getting when insurance companies pay to get hostages and ships released, and I think it sends a pretty clear message. Maybe it’s time to repeat history, and send in the Marines to kick ass and take names, not only against the pirates, who are nothing but terrorists, but also against the money men who are backing them.
Tags: American Marines, Aztecs, Battle of Derne, Chapultepec Castle, East Africa, First Barbary War, Halls of Montezuma, hostages, insurance companies, Maersk Alabama, Marine Corps, Marines Hymn, Mediterranean Sea, merchant vessels, Mexican War, Mexico City, Montezuma, Navy, Navy SEALS, pirate attacks, pirates, ransom, shores of Tripoli, Somali pirates, Third World thugs, U.S. Marines, warships