Embedded within the ethos of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) is a quote that resonates with the wisdom of the ancient philosopher Heraclitus and encapsulates the spirit, commitment, and indomitable will of the Marines. “Of Every Hundred Men, Ten Shouldn’t Even Be There, Eighty Are Nothing but Targets, Nine Are Real Fighters… We Are Lucky to Have Them… They Make the Battle. Ah, But the One, One Is a Warrior… and He Will Bring the Others Back.” This profound quote, often attributed to Hiram I. Bearss, a United States Marine Corps officer during World War I, echoes the sentiment of Heraclitus’ teachings on the nature of battle and change.

Of Every Hundred Men Marine Corps Vintage Sign
Of Every Hundred Men Marine Corps Vintage Sign

A Breakdown of the Quote

Each segment of the quote offers a glimpse into the mindset of a Marine and the qualities that set them apart:

  1. Ten Shouldn’t Even Be There: In the words of Heraclitus, “Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.” This line echoes the philosopher’s recognition of the varying levels of readiness and capabilities among individuals.
  2. Eighty Are Nothing but Targets: The quote’s mention of eighty individuals being “just targets” aligns with Heraclitus’ emphasis on the fleeting nature of existence and the constant flux of life.
  3. Nine Are Real Fighters: This segment reflects the philosopher’s acknowledgment of the minority who possess the qualities and skills necessary for effective combat.
  4. We Are Lucky to Have Them: Heraclitus’ view of the world as a harmonious interplay of opposites finds resonance in the idea of being fortunate to have the skilled and dedicated fighters among us.
  5. They Make the Battle: The interconnectedness of all things, a central theme in Heraclitus’ philosophy, aligns with the notion that the fighters are essential components in the larger context of battle.
  6. One Is a Warrior: The emphasis on the unique qualities of the one warrior reflects Heraclitus’ perspective that unity arises from the interplay of individual elements.
  7. He Will Bring the Others Back: Just as Heraclitus saw the cyclical nature of change, the warrior’s role in guiding and protecting his comrades reflects the philosopher’s belief in the interdependence of all things.

The Unbreakable Marine Corps Spirit

The Marine Corps ethos and the quote “Of Every Hundred Men” share a connection through their acknowledgment of the complex dynamics of warfare, the importance of skilled fighters, and the profound impact of individuals on the collective whole. The Marines’ unwavering dedication, as exemplified by this quote, embodies the philosophy of Heraclitus in action—a harmonious unity forged through the diversity of roles and contributions.


The quote “Of Every Hundred Men” not only captures the essence of the Marine Corps’ ethos but also finds resonance in the ancient teachings of Heraclitus. Just as the Marines embrace their unique roles within the collective whole, Heraclitus recognized the dynamic nature of life and the ever-changing interplay of elements. To honor the indomitable spirit of the United States Marine Corps, explore a wide range of custom military products and merchandise at Devildogshirts.Com, where you’ll find designs that pay homage to the warrior ethos that defines the Marines.