Camp Lejeune is one of the Marine's largest bases. Here at WUNC, we report on the base regularly because it's located in North Carolina. We used to call it Camp "Luh-JOON". But we recently started pronouncing it "Luh-JERN". How come?
The base is named after Lt. Gen. John Archer Lejeune. It was named in his honor in December of 1942. "General Lejeune is generally regarded as having been the greatest Marine. He served in World War I and he is credited with transforming the Marines from light colonial infantry to a modern amphibious force," says L.J. "Kim" Kimball, a historian and retired Marine.
Somehow, as the years passed, Lejeune's name began to be mispronounced. Even many Marines themselves began to refer to the facility as Camp "Luh-JOON" rather than the way Lejeune himself pronounced his last name, "Luh-JERN".
Enter Patrick T. (P.T.) Brent. Brent is a former Marine. He was tasked with writing a story for the Marine's magazine, Leatherneck, about how to say Lejeune's name.
Brent went to Louisiana to talk with Lejeune's descendants. "The family ... has always been concerned because the name has been disrespected and not spoken correctly," Brent says. "One of the family members says "Every time we hear the 'JOON' word we cringe. It's 'Luh-JERN'.'"
Brent has now made it his mission to teach people how to say Lejeune with an "R"- and he even trains Marines who live and work on base:
"It is incontrovertibly, incontrovertibly correct, the pronunciation of his name. We've lost it for a while," Brent says.
In 2010 many news outlets began to migrate to the new pronunciation. It made national news at the time.