Sunday was the annual men’s conference at my church. Part of the deal when you belong to a church like mine is wearing specific colors/clothing styles to celebrate different events. My friends are all laughing now, since my wardrobe consists of things you can buy at Fleet Farm and Cabela’s. But I did have a black shirt, a black suit, and a black tie. So I put on the appropriate garb and showed up for the late service.
During the announcements the congregation recognized the veterans in the group. Called by branch to stand up and sing out. Navy was second, and a few I didn’t know were vets popped tall. This continued through the Coast Guard and then we presented arms. (Saluted)
I was overawed, as always, to feel that blaze in my soul when we all stood up. Here, surrounding me in God’s house on a Sunday morning, were people with whom I shared more identity than most that I will ever meet. I was proud to stand with my brothers and sisters. I knew by their response that each of them had been a warrior in their youth.
Yes, a warrior. I’ve seen this “thing” floating about the web that some of us don’t count as warriors because we didn’t climb into a helicopter and land in a rice paddy, or perhaps cross the Saudi desert in a Bradley. Nonsense. Anyone who ever willingly put on the uniform and served honorably was a warrior. Just because you didn’t get called into battle didn’t mean that you weren’t willing to go, trained to go, and capable of carrying out the mission. That includes millions of service members who have served over all the years who never saw an enemy, never sailed near a hostile coast, or loaded their weapon with live rounds in anticipation of a battle.
As always, the Marine Corps contingent was the loudest. I would expect nothing less. I’m pretty sure my dad was shouting along up in Heaven to amp up the noise level and remind me of his beloved Corps. No doubt the angels will be tired of shushing Marines by the end of the day today, as the 10th of November is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps.
Barring a blizzard (which is predicted in Minnesota today) I will hoist a drink (Diet Coke) with a group of genial Marines in celebration of the Corps. I am honored to have been invited to the party. It has been my pleasure, and good fortune, to have served with Marines in my life. My command was a joint command, Marines in command, subordinate Marines, Marines everywhere. We razzed each other, but don’t screw with me or you face them. Screw with them and face me. It was all the same in the end. Brothers and sisters.
I was reminded of that again on Sunday night as I was watching Criminal Minds on Netflix. I won’t give the plot away if you’re still catching up, but it involved Marines and the brotherhood they share throughout their lives. My wife, also a veteran, and I both got a bit choked up at the end of the show. We know that love in our lives.
You see, we are blessed to have friends all over the world who served with us. We talk, email, and meet for coffee or dinner, or just to stare into the abyss together. It’s a bond that civilians will never know. There is something about the experience that brings you close. It’s shared across generations as well. I feel a kinship with recent vets and WWII era heroes as well. All I have to do is know they were there, standing on the same yellow foot prints where you get off the bus, and I share a history. Doesn’t matter if it was Fort Dix in 1956, or San Diego in 2014. We are all part of the same family.
Today will be my day to celebrate the Marines. Tomorrow, and every day, I honor and celebrate my service and that of my family. We are one in spirit.
Tomorrow will be a different kind of post for this blog, and part of it touches on veterans as well. Please drop by to see what it’s all about and give it some thought.