I Think It Was A Marketing Thing
by James Glaser
April 14, 2008

I had my gallery open for "Peace Day" at Railroad Square yesterday and was talking to a former Army officer, who when told that I had been a Marine said, "Hoorah!" He then said, "Sorry, I should have said 'OohRah!'" To which I told him those phrases mean nothing to me.

If you Google the "origin of HooRah," you can get this from About.com, but even they have no idea of where the saying came from.

You can hear it echoing from the hallowed halls of Fort Benning, Ga.'s Infantry Center to the ranges at Fort Lewis, Wash. It is uttered at award ceremonies, bellowed from formations, and repeated before, during and after training missions. You can hear it shouted by Air Force Security Forces, Pararescue, and Combat Controllers. The word is thundered out by Navy SEALs, and by United States Marines (who pronounce it "OohRah!").

I went on to tell this former officer that I never heard anything close to what he was saying to me when I was in the Marines. He asked what we said in place of it, and all I could come up with was "Kill!" In Marine Corps Boot Camp we said or most likely yelled, Kill! at least 50 times a day. Some days, 50 times in an hour.

Now you hear Army guys yelling Hoorah when President Bush speaks at their base. The Army, in fact all the branches of our military service, have become the cheerleaders for almost all of President Bush's speeches. They are about the only "safe" place that he can speak and not be afraid of being protested.

I figure somebody at the Pentagon figured out that a bunch of Marines yelling "Kill, Kill, Kill" at a presidential speech would not go over well with the public or would it help with recruitment. Also, a bunch of guys standing around yelling hooray! That would sound too British, even if they left off the couple of "Hip Hip's". So they came up with this nebulous HooRah just to sound enthusiastic.

Of course the Marines could not mimic the Army, so they had to change their yell to "OohRah." Either that or some Marine officer just couldn't figure out how to spell the Army yell and wrote it down the way he heard it.

No matter what the real story is, we have tens of thousands of Soldiers and Marines, Airmen and Sailors running around every day yelling HooRah! Nobody knows what it means or where it came from. It demonstrates the intelligence of our "all volunteer military." When people say our military if not what it used to be (pre-Bush) with all these men and women yelling words made up by, most likely the recruitment marketing department. We can see that the Pentagon has lowered the standards for our troops way too far. Mindless yelling does not instill confidence.

I know our yelling Kill!,Kill!, Kill! every day several times in Boot Camp was to get us ready to do just that... kill. We all knew that we were headed for Vietnam, and truth be told, over 30% of my Boot Camp Platoon were dead within a year after graduation.

I know that our yell was part of the brainwashing the Marine Corps uses to train its troops, but at least we knew the meaning of the word we were yelling.

Today's troops are yelling a made-up word that really means nothing. HooRah sounds to me like some frat initiation yell, and it really has nothing to do with preparing troops for anything.

Making up words to sound good to the American people when they see our troops on television getting ready to go into combat is pretty lame to say the least. As horrible as it is to hear, a platoon of Marines screaming "Kill," it is at least honest. Made-up words meaning nothing, seems stupid, and it is.

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