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Master Gunnery Sergeant Tim Kirk addresses Marines during the 247th Marine Corps Birthday Celebration

Village News Staff

Every year, Marines, their spouses, and communities across the world celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday. Last year, on Nov. 5, Fallbrook resident, retired Master Gunnery Sergeant and Epic Realty Group Owner and Realtor@ Tim Kirk, was invited by a friend and client to be the guest speaker and address Marines at the 247th Birthday Ball celebration in Bogota, Colombia.

There were approximately 700 attendees at the Grand Hyatt in Bogota, home of the second largest American Embassy in the world, according to Kirk.

Typically, such invitations are extended to individuals who have shown exemplary service or commitment to the Marine Corps community or who have distinguished themselves in a manner that resonates with the values and traditions of the Marines.

Kirk traveled to Colombia, and said his family received a warm welcome from all the militaries and the local Colombian dignitaries. His speech highlighted change, servant leadership and relationships. The honor and commitment that is at the foundation of the Marine Corps ethos and how these values transcend borders and cultures was also communicated.

In his speech, he encouraged the Marines who find themselves in a situation they aren't happy with, or after making a decision they aren't proud of, to "not be afraid to make a change. Change your actions, your situation, change your friends, and possibly your belief system."

He continued, "If you're having any thoughts of negativity or mediocrity, or if you made a mistake that you're not proud of, change! It doesn't mean it's time to throw the baby out with the bath water! Keep charging forward and learn from those mistakes....Use your awesome, internal moral compass and make good decisions when you are at that fork in the decision-making road. Seek out change and knowledge."

He spoke of servant leadership and putting the needs of others before their needs. "Servant leaders appear in our ranks from an early stage of their careers and can show traits of leading with a servant's heart."

Kirk then ended with emphasizing the importance of relationships. "The U.S. military and especially the Marine Corps are known for valuing brotherhood. Not only do we show it within the joint forces, but also with our partner nations. There is no stronger bond than that of Colombia and the U.S. which dates back to fighting together in Korea, to working together on multiple domains today. Colombia and the U.S. will continue to share a great bond of friendship and brotherhood and we continue to bolster our relationship as the years go on. If we expect Marines or ourselves to be the best of the best, we need to encourage change, be servant leaders and build relationships to last generations."

Before and after the event, Kirk's family took time to experience the rich cultural heritage of Colombia with friends, as well as hiking Mount Monserrate the day after they arrived. Reflecting on the difference between Fallbrook's Monserate Mountain and the Bogota, Colombia Mount Monserrate, Kirk said the Bogota Monserate was above 10,000 feet. "It was simply beautiful," he said.

They visited historical sites and sampled the local cuisine, which helped them gain a deeper appreciation for the country and its people. Kirk said that he had friends who warned him to not take his family down to Columbia but they never felt unsafe and it was a great trip.

There are approximately 179,378 active duty Marines, plus 35,240 Marine Corps Reservists serving.

Kirk's experience in Bogota highlighted the power of community and the global reach of the Marine Corps family.


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