HOORAH!! Semper Fi! Words reserved only for the few..the proud..the Marines. And a small company of Marines, friends and relatives celebrated the 237th birthday of the Corps Saturday night in a Missoula home.

Brian Vreeland and his wife Leaane, both retired from the Marine Corps, opened their home for the second year in a row to Marines decked out in their dress blues, along with family members and friends to carry out a tradition that has been celebrated from the finest hotels, to foxholes in harms way throughout the world.

Brian Vreeland, looking every inch the Marine sergeant in his dress blues, read a welcome from the current Marine Corps Commandant, along with a brief history of the celebration, which coincidentally occurs the immediately prior to Veteran's Day each year. But that's OK for the Marines...they love a good party! And, because it's the Marines who tend to pave the way for the other armed forces in combat, it seems only fitting their celebration should come first, on November 10th of each year.

The Vreeland's home, situated high in the hills above Miller Creek, is a living testament to the influence of the Corps on the family. Leanne, a retired Lt. Colonel, and her husband have lived all over the world, but a two tandem bicycle tour that began June 1st, 2002 on the east coast and ended September 1st in Anacortes, Washington brought the Vreelands to Logan Pass in Glacier Park. And that is where Brian and Leanne began their love affair with Montana. Brian is now a Missoula police officer, while Leanne splits her time between St. Patrick Hospital and the Hospice Center.

Their three daughters are lovely, outgoing, and thanks to their parents and the Corps...have a great sense of fun and adventure.

As the son of two Marines, it was an honor for me and my wife, Lorna to be allowed to mingle with men and women who have put their lives on the line for our country.

So, on this Veteran's Day..God bless the Marines, and all the members of the armed forces..and thank you for your service to our country.

Lt. Col. Leanne Vreeland USMC (Ret)