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“Is it appropriate to use “Semper Fi” in your email signature if you have never been in the military?”

by Prince Of Petworth March 31, 2017 at 11:25 am 53 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Josh Bassett

“Dear PoPville,

Since there are so many people in DC who are in or are affiliated with our military, I have a question for the PoPville community: Is it appropriate to use “Semper Fi” in your email signature if you have never been in the military (much less the Marines)? Does having a child who is a Marine make it OK?”

  • Grant Circle

    NO. Full Stop.

    • DC


    • tito jackson

      You can use the civilian version – “semper fidelis” probably without consequences.

      I’m not a military person though mind you.

      • anonymous

        The formal version for the USMC is “Semper Fidelis” (“Always Faithful”)- there is no “civilian” phrase for the Marine Corps. Some Marines just abbreviate it to Semper Fi.

  • Anon

    Personally, I wouldn’t use it. It’s way too identified with just one organization. And if I had a child in the Marines I’d clarify by having something like “Proud Marine Parent” or something like that in the signature as well. But that’s just me.

    • DC

      +1 as well

  • Anonamom

    I just hate quotes in email signatures, period.

    • Anonymous

      +1. Just your name and contact information please. I don’t need to know your favorite clichéd philosophies and inspirational messages, thanks.

      • DCbyDay


      • textdoc


      • Kevin


    • Quotia Zelda

      Yes, this.

    • wdc

      Oh gosh, me too. I have one friend who still has “Love and Live Strong” on her emails. And of course, at least three “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
      On topic, though, I had a boyfriend once who signed his romantic letters (yes, I’m old) with “Semper” and I thought it was lovely.

    • Emmaleigh504

      Totally hate them.

    • Idontgetit


  • anonymous

    I am the daughter of a Marine, the sister of a Marine, and a huge fan of the Marine Corps in general: my answer is no, I would never use “Semper Fi” or “Semper Fidelis” if you haven’t been in that club personally. Being a relative of its members or a fan like myself doesn’t count. I wouldn’t want to be seen as a poser or someone trying to create the illusion I was a Marine.

    • DCbyDay

      SAME. I grew up in a military family. I have many friends who are Marines. But I would never ever do this. If you are a not a Marine, don’t do it.

  • Kam

    Hell No!! How insulting.

  • CEO

    Having anything in your signature other than your contact info or company’s contact info is extremely unprofessional

    • maxwell smart

      related: PLEASE include your contact information in professional email signatures. I can’t count the amount of times people have neglected to include a phone number and I have to dig through all email correspondence to find the one time they included their phone number in the body of the email text, scrawl it on a post-it, and keep it on my monitor for future reference when I need to contact them. If you don’t want people contacting you directly by phone, at the very least put your assistant or the main company number.

      • Anonymous

        ha ha, actually I purposely do not include include my phone number because I will not be able to get my work done if I’m answering calls all day. I need to be able to prioritize my work and not have it be prioritized by whoever happens to be calling me right now. Please email me and I will handle it as quickly as I can. (Obviously this won’t work for all types of jobs though.)

        • maxwell smart

          At this point though, I assume everyone has caller ID and can actively choose if they want to answer a call or not. And again, at least put an assistant or main contact number. The issue for me is that sometimes I do require an urgent response or later I might need that person’s information for a reference – then I can’t find it.

          • Anonymous

            Well if I’m screening calls, then your “urgent” business isn’t getting through, is it? I can actually screen emails more effectively than I can screen phone calls, since I can tell instantly from the subject line what they want as well as who it is. I have no way of knowing something’s urgent when all I see is who’s calling. Plus my work phone is on my desk, by I get emails on my cellphone. So if I’m away from my desk, calling me is the slowest way to get my attention. (Again, I’m using my job as an example. Not the same for everyone. But my point is that *I* know what the best way for you to contact me is, and in my case it’s not the telephone.)

      • kanon

        Related: asking someone for their phone number/other contact info when it is clearly in their email signature Every.Time.They.Respond is annoying.

  • mcd

    Former Naval Officer here. I would say it would be looked at as kinda cheesy and raise eyebrows if you hadn’t personally served in the Corps- but no one would probably call you out on it. If you were sending an email to a Marine who knew your kid was a Marine, I think you could get away with it as a show of camaraderie. Like someone above said though- I personally find email signature quotes cheesy af. My personal favorite was a former customer who had a Tolkien quote in his signature and the dude actually looked like a Hobbit.

  • Victoria

    I mean… “Semper Fidelis” as a phrase way pre-dates the Marine Corps, but since “Semper Fi” is best associated with the Marines, I feel like its pretty lame to use it.

    But maybe I’m just totes jelly because I’m in the Army and we had to employ an advertising agency and still don’t have a cool motto.

    I feel like using “Semper Fi” in an email signature regardless of your connection to the military is solidly in the category of wearing the t-shirt of the band you’re going to see. “Don’t be that guy.”

    • Truxton Thomas

      If advertising agencies are hired to develop catchphrases for steak, of all wonderful things, then I would say it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

    • AMDCer

      Great – now I have the old “Be all that you can be” jingle stuck in my head….

  • Anon

    I would not be bothered it. It is not as if they are claiming to be a member of the military, running some kind of scam to prey on the sympathy of people towards veterans, trying to fraudulently obtain veteran benefits, etc… Maybe they are doing it to honor the military or a friend.

    • Fhfheudhf

      The person described in the original post does everything short of saying he was in the Marines. I always assumed he had been in the military and was shocked to find out from someone else in the office that he had never served.

  • danger dave

    Obviously it has the Marine connotations, but if someone loves the Latin quote, I think it’s narrow minded to state nobody can ever use it since it sounds like an appropriate quote for the end of an email, if one was ever to have one.
    If the girl/guy is claiming to be in the Marines, which it doesn’t sound like he is, there isn’t much of a problem as far as I can tell.

    • rtghnasrtj

      Using “semper fidelis” would be using the Latin quote. Using “semper fi” is pretty directly tied to the Marines, as far as I know.

      • danger dave

        Good point!

  • ParkViewneighbor

    Why would you include anything like that in your signature? even if you have been in the military?
    Why wouldn’t you also include your college’s battle cry or fight song?

  • Crazyquilt


    (From a crusty 25-year Air Force veteran who worked with a lot of great Marines over the years. )

  • Ross

    I see it as similar to how a civilian should never do a military salute to a member of the armed forces or the flag.

  • MadMax

    Semper fidelis means “always faithful”, the Marines have no trademark on the term and it predates their existence as a common term by centuries. Unless your company has a specific policy for what can be in your signature block then I suggest finding something else to get offended by.

    • Kevin

      Nice mini-lecture but come on…

      Of course the Marines don’t own it but “Semper Fi” is so tied to the Corps in the minds of the general public that the large percentage of people who see it would get the wrong idea (thinking that you served). It’s not about “offending”; it’s about miscommunication (and being sensitive to that).

      • MadMax

        Why is this something anyone would care about? Unless they’re pretending to have served in order to get some sort of veteran benefit then does it hurt anyone?

        • northeazy

          Because military service is revered in this country. We even have laws against stolen valor. To expropriate that is serious.

  • Mojotron

    What about using “Carpe Diem” if you’ve never been in the Dead Poet’s Society?

  • Brightwoodian

    I spent 8 years in the air force. I would never use it. Would you put “We do it your way” in your signature block if you didnt work at Burger King?

  • DSB

    My question would be, to what end are trying to use it? It seems that this is coming from a sense of pride in a child who is a Marine, awesome! You should be extremely proud of your child! Regardless of what is being said publicly about the Corps right now, and it is currently well deserved, we take immense pride in our traditions and Esprit De Corps. It is not appropriate, in any instance, to co-opt that phrase. If you truly wish to express that pride in your child you should use “proud parent of” or something similar. Hope that helps clarify.

  • LittleBluePenguin

    I think it’s super cheesy, whether or not you are / have been in / have a kid that’s in the Marines, but hey, do what you wanna do, I guess, it’s not like it’s trademarked or that you could be prosecuted for using it “improperly.”

  • Anon X


  • Mr. Magoo

    I agree with those who as a general matter find quotes in email signatures cheesy. I don’t take any offense, however, with Marine parents who would like to use “Semper Fi.” Their child may be placed in harm’s way at any time, and the honor that no one seeks — to be a Gold Star parent — is always in the background. I’m far more offended by national “leaders” who did everything in their power to avoid military service in their youth, and then fetishize the military for political purposes once they are in office.

    • Evan Tupac Grooter

      The medical deferral was justified. How can you fight with hands that small?

  • inrosedal

    If you decide to use it, know that 1) someone may assume you are a Marine, which unless you make clear you are not is not okay, and 2) those who know you are not a Marine will view you as a poser. The Corps is the most important thing in the lives of the majority of men and women who served in it, and to make light of that or try to reap some sort of benefit by portraying yourself as one could end VERY poorly for you.

  • Ghengiz Ken

    If you use it, the Stolen valor guys might get you. http://www.stolenvalor.com/

  • Neil

    Sure. Go ahead and sign your emails as “Snake” while you’re at it.

  • Anonymous

    The only way this is appropriate is if you’re sending me an email from an official .mil Marines account. Otherwise, leave extraneous crap out of your signature.


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