Katherine Friesenhahn" />

Semper Fideles: Always Faithful – Fredericksburg, Texas

Semper Fideles: Always Faithful
Fredericksburg, Texas/USA

I have great respect and honor for all of the Americans who dedicated their lives and for the Americans who continue to dedicate their lives to protect my freedom. My way of life is the result of their enormous sacrifice. However, I have never been a fan of war history.

Re-enactment of the Battle of Iwo Jima
Re-enactment of the Battle of Iwo Jima
My husband equally shares my feelings of respect for America’s Armed Forces. But unlike me, he has a passion for American war history, particularly World War II. For this reason, I found myself in Fredericksburg, Texas on 19 February 2005, attending the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima and the public tribute to the heroes of that battle.

I wasn’t overly thrilled while standing on the crowded sidewalk in the middle of downtown Fredericksburg in the cold, gloomy weather, waiting for the parade to start. But my husband totally enjoyed it, so I was determined to make the best of it. As we waited for the parade to begin, I became fascinated with the vast number of military veterans walking around in their reddish-orange colored vests and their strange-looking caps. Whenever the veterans encountered one another, they gave a “thumbs-up” and said something that to me sounded like “simplify.” At first, I didn’t wonder too much about what they were saying, but after hearing it repeatedly, I began to wonder if I was hearing the word correctly.

Once the parade began, I found myself fascinated by the array of World War II armory. Surprisingly, I found myself moving off the sidewalk and out into the street in the cold drizzly weather along with everyone else in order to get a closer view of the parade. The camaraderie between the veterans and the excitement of the parade made me ignore the damp weather. I was having a good time.

The recreated Mount Suribachi on the Welge Ranch in Doss, Texas
The recreated Mount Suribachi on the Welge Ranch in Doss, Texas
As the parade progressed, I became more determined to know what the veterans were saying to one another. During a break in the parade, I asked a Marine veteran who was standing near me what the word was and its meaning. He proudly looked directly at me and said “Ma’am, semper fi, or semper fideles – always faithful; faithful to God and faithful to my country. These are the words I live by.”

Later that day, we attended the reenactment of the battle of Iwo Jima. I thought about “semper fi” as I attentively watched and listened to the realistic sights and sounds of the battle. I became emotional when seeing soldiers carry the make-believe dead and wounded bodies of their war brothers off the battle ground. I grappled with the finality of death for the soldiers who actually died during the real battle. I thought about the loved ones they left behind, the life experiences they missed, and all of the many other things that death takes away. Several times my thoughts were so overwhelming that I had to swallow hard to keep my tears from falling. And as I watched the reenactment of the raising of the flag on top of Mount Suribachi, the words “semper fideles” kept running through my mind. Now knowing that these men lived by being “always faithful” deeply increased my respect for their way of life.

Re-enactment of the flag raising on top of the recreated Mount Suribachi on the Welge Ranch
Re-enactment of the flag raising on top of the recreated Mount Suribachi on the Welge Ranch
The next day, I found myself very interested in a true World War II movie my husband was watching on The History Channel. Instead of busying myself with something else as I normally would have done, I found myself eagerly following every detail of the movie. Because of the words “semper fideles,” I now share my husband’s passion for American war history.


Copied From Program: The event was a large scale reenactment of the Battle for Mount Suribachi and the Two Flag Raisings. Several hundred miliary volunteers staged a large scale reenactment recreating the fighting around the base of Mount Suribachi and the two flag raisings (in the original battle, there were two flag raisings in order to preserve the first flag that was raised immediately after the battle).

The reenactment took place on the Welge Ranch in Doss, Texas.

The event was sponsered by “The Admiral Nimitz Foundation and the National Museum of the Pacific War” in Fredericksburg, Texas.

A heroes’ parade took place down Main Street in Fredericksburg, Texas. The parade featured Iwo Jima veterans, military veterans from past conflicts, active duty military, and dozens of WWII vehicles.

Traveler Article


Leave a Comment