Armistice Day began Nov. 11th, 1918 when WWI officially suspended combat on the 11th day of the 11th month on the 11th hour. In time, the name of Armistice Day became Veterans Day in 1954, honoring all those who served in the military on Nov. 12th.
For the Marvin family, there was not a single military conflict in which the family ranks were not involved and seriously depleted, going all the back to the American Revolution. As Lee Marvin liked to say, “It’s my country. We fought for it, we Marvins.” However, since Armistice Day, began with the end of WWI, the involvement began a little closer in Lee’s lineage, which meant his father, Lamont Waltham “Monte” Marvin.
Monte Marvin in his WWI uniform.
Monte was a 1st, Lt. during the war and in charge of a unit in the 302nd Engineers stationed in France. He later served in WWII as a battalion Sgt, again in France, having resigned his commission. As he wryly told a reporter years later, “I was too young for the first war and to old for the second, so I ended up in both.”
An older Monter Marvin in uniform during WWII.
The Marvin men all served in WWII, with Lee’s brother Robert serving in the ground crew of the Army Air Corp. and Lee seeing the most combat as a Marine in the USMC’s island hopping campaign in the Pacific.
All told, the Marvins did their part to earn respect and recognition for their duty in the service. This being Veterans’ Day — and a very special one, as it’s the 100th anniversary of the Armistice signing of WWI — take a moment some time today and remember those who served. Their contribution deserves our thanks.
How to show that remembrance? One way is to read Lee Marvin Point Blank and discover in the actor’s own words via never-before-seen letters exactly what he experienced firsthand and how he really felt about the war at the time he went through it. You won’t be disappointed. Happy Veterans Day.
Monte Marvin (left) and son Lee photographed for LIFE Magazine in the 1960s.
Veterans Day is yet another time to honor the memory of Lee Marvin, and the honor is provided courtesy of Leatherneck Magazine. I was quite surprised to find out how long the magazine has actually been in existence. This month marks Leatherneck Magazine’s 100th anniversary. Not surprising since November 10th marks the 242nd anniversary of the Marine Corp itself, so there’s some symmetry there.
Equally surprising is the the date in which Veteran’s Day is observed. November 11th was chosen due to the Armistice being signed on that date in WWI, which by the way, it remains Armistice Day in other countries for that reason. Oh, and in case you ever wondered why such organizations as the American Legion sell paper red poppies to raise money, there’s an interesting reason for that, as well. Red poppies were seen blooming on the hills of the Western Front amid the carnage following the armistice of WWI. For some reason I take comfort in that symbolism of life among the dead, instead of selling toy guns or something.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Lee Marvin was interviewed by Leatherneck Magazine about a year before his death making it one of the last ones he ever gave to a periodical. I cam across it during my early research for Lee Marvin Point Blank and found it both insightful and humorous. Unfortunately, upon further research, I discovered some of the facts to be incorrect (Monte Marvin came out of WWII with a Sergeant’s rank, not a captain), making it hard to use anything in it other than Lee Marvin’s quotes. In the long run, that worked out best as it helped me decide to write the chapter on Lee’s time in the USMC strictly in his own words from letters he wrote home during the war. It became one of my favorite exclusives to the book, if you haven’t read it.
So, without further adieu, I give you Lee Marvin speaking freely to Leatherneck. Enjoy and have a good Veteran’s Day!
– Dwayne Epstein
Page 1 of Leatherneck Magazine’s July 1986 interview with Lee Marvin.
Page 2 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.
Page 3 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.
Page 4 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.
Page 5 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.
Page 6 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.