Creeds, Codes and Mottos

A combat-wounded Marine pauses to look at the Navy Sailor's Creed.
Cpl. Rory Hamill, a combat-wounded Marine, pauses to look at the Navy Sailor's Creed on the wall of the base gym on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Dec. 4, 2017. (Master Sgt. Matt Hecht/U.S. Air National Guard photo)

People preparing for military, law enforcement and firefighting professions number in the millions, with new groups of young men and women every year deciding to serve our country and communities. Trainees typically have many questions, depending upon what tactical profession they are preparing for in their future.

Some of the most common questions are:

  • "What is the training like?"
  • "What is the job like?"
  • "What do you like the most about your job?"
  • "Was it all worth it?"
  • "What type of people become ______?"

When you ask, "What type of people become ______?" and are referring to those who serve this country and its communities, you might want to look at their mottos, creeds and codes. Every group in the military, law enforcement and firefighting communities either have a few-word motto or a several-paragraph creed by which they live.

You can get an idea about what kind of mindset you need going into these jobs from these Latin mottos or longer creeds. They were created by members of these units and represent the type of people who serve in these tactical professions. But what about a creed for the trainee or recruit?

It has been difficult to find official recruit, candidate or trainee creeds. The firefighting community has a Fire Fighter Recruit Creed that is motivational and gives you an understanding of their profession.

Most Americans seeking public service professions as a first responder, though, do not have a creed. Those who are preparing for challenging programs with high attrition rates and relatively small community numbers could use something that helps them focus on why they must train hard every day. The below Trainee Creed is a focused paragraph of motivational words to live by each day to guide your training when you have to rely on your discipline to keep going.

After a recent post where I asked, "Why do you train?" I received so many great responses that I not only created a Top Ten List for Motivation to Train, but accumulated more than a hundred motivations to make a Motivational Book of Reasons to Train. But one answer was such a strong response that I thought it would be a great start for the Trainee Creed.

No matter what tactical profession you are training for -- here is the Trainee Creed:

"My training and motivation reflects a never quit attitude and a refusal to be outworked. I train so that I can be strong for the Team with which I will one day serve. I train so that I can be the warrior of which Heraclitus spoke: the one who will 'bring the others back.'"

If you are not familiar with the Greek philosopher Heraclitus's exact quote, it goes like this:

"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."

Check out these links for some groups out there with motivational words to live by each day.

Air Force Pararescue Creed: "It is my duty as a Pararescueman to save life and to aid the injured. I will be prepared at all times to perform my assigned duties quickly and efficiently, placing these duties before personal desires and comforts. These things I do, That Others May Live."

Army, Navy, Air Force, USMC, Coast Guard Creeds - All branches of service have some form of creed or code of conduct.

Many of these creeds discuss the honor and pride it is to serve their country and communities in any tactical profession. The creeds are fairly romantic views of service, and the new Trainee Creed reflects that same honor, pride and never-quit attitude one must have to make it to and through these training programs and serve our country and its communities.

Thank you for those who currently serve and have served, as well as those who are preparing their mind and body now for a life of service. The trainees today are the future, and preparing properly and being the best you can now will save lives tomorrow. Good luck, god speed, Semper Fi and never quit.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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