To you, the United States Marine Corps:
Let’s be honest. Because you deserve honesty as much as I do.
The days are not so distant when I absolutely loathed you. For nine years my significant other was tethered to you. For nine years, of which only the last four was I part of the scene, you moved him around the country, made him stay on base late, rise at ‘o dark thirty early, and face dangers thankfully unknown to myself and even to my veteran.
For nine long and yet fleeting years, you instilled a strength, both physical and mental, while yanking out a boy and replacing him with a man. For nearly a decade you beckoned him to stand and face adversity, to obey without question ridiculous orders, to salute and to swallow pride. You flew him to a sandy land where he felt a realization swelling within of making not just an effort but a difference. Three times you pushed him overseas and each time he came back a bit more weathered, a lot more traveled, a little wiser yet never hesitant. You made him thirst for those experiences, the ones that kept me up at night. You fostered a love within him to not only serve his country but humanity.
I watched a family separated from their boy and a community rally behind a young man whom they love dearly. I watched tears roll down his mom and dad’s faces, holding their hands as we walked away for the longest time I’ve ever known.
Through all the jackassery from higher ups, all the stupid shit lance corporals did that got him in trouble, every time he kept a fucking ink pen in his cammies that went through the washing machine and ruined my life, his boots and boot bands lying by the bed, a reckless tripping hazard, woodland covers sliding around on the dash, the safety briefs upon safety briefs, listening to him bitch about standing in formation for an eternity and classes about coming home from deployment and not beating your wife…through it all, USMC, I still love you. And, I must admit I do miss you some days…a few days.
The inherent and unasked for camaraderie from the Corps families – from people who really know what you’re going through because they’ve done it and are still doing it is a remarkable phenomenon. One that I haven’t had anything rival since we left.
On this, your 240th birthday, you old, wrinkly bastard, and on the eve of Veterans’ Day, I want to say thank you and also that I forgive you. Even though I hated you sometimes, I know that your possession of my marine not only bettered him as a man and better prepared him to be one helluva husband, but it also bettered you. I firmly believe he left a lasting impression on the men and women likely still in your clutch and hopefully on the gunnies and officers that had their rants handed right back to them. “What are they going to do, fire me?” he would say after telling me how he reamed someone out.
I know in my heart that the friends and Marines he made and had under his wing know how much he cares. “Anyone that isn’t going somewhere for Thanksgiving is coming to our house. I don’t want any of my guys sitting around alone on the holidays…that’s when they do stupid shit like off themselves.” That year, we had approximately 25 friends, neighbors, loved ones and service members pick two turkeys clean, stake drunken claim to seconds and thirds and crash anywhere and everywhere they could on our floors and furniture. Neither my house nor my heart had ever felt so full.
To all you honorable men and women that have the distinct pleasure in calling yourselves US Marines, I sincerely, genuinely and proudly say thank you and happy mother fucking birthday. You are the best there is and the best there ever will be. It was an honor to walk alongside some of you on Camp Lejeune and the air station. It was humbling to brush shoulders with you at the PX and it’s truly awesome to be the wife of a US Marine.
And my dear, since we’re being honest, every warm-blooded human knows that when a United States Marine dons those dress blues, it’s the best thing you’ve ever seen. No, seriously…your argument is invalid.