Happy Birthday, Marines; Thank You, Vets and Families
Include in The Marine Prayer are these lines: If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again. Though the birthday of the Marines is November 10th, the birthday ball was held in Houston on November 5. As I watched the Marines (oldest in attendance was 92 and the youngest was 26) in attendance, listened to stories, observed their eyes as they spoke and watched, laughed as the young Marine at our table entertained with mannerisms and personality, watched the little children on the dance floor with their parents, noted the immense pride of everyone there...I was better able to discern the love, patience, courage, vulnerability, and roller coaster rides of the spouses and family during the journey. And through the event, the lines of the prayer made even more sense.
A buddy of mine died a few months ago. A Marine...once a Marine, always a Marine. I was moved by the number of fellow Marines who came to his funeral. Last night, I witnessed things that helped it all make more sense.
For all the mystique, chest pounding pride, and aura of invincibility in the Marine culture, the scene at the Marine Ball made it abundantly clear that they are the few, the proud....the very human, the loving, the bold, the vulnerable, the affected, the effectors, the wounded and the "wounded." Seeing the humanity in the spouses married 30-plus years as the wife watches the young girlfriend of the Marine at our table and then explains times in their relationship in which she had to learn to understand "Marine ways"; seeing the men with chests glistening with gold and colored with ribbons, as they dance with little girls wearing patent leather shoes; seeing a Marine's eyes cut a way to some remote place, far, far away as they share a story or simply get lost in thought.
It is this humanity that I am proud to be part of helping celebrate as my office at the university hosts a human, humane and patriotic tribute to veterans and their families each Veterans Day. Under the committed leadership of Cheryl Rohde, the event continues to grow, involve more people in the community, garner more support, yet stay true to a patriotic, apolitical tribute of thanks to veterans and their families. I hope you can join us at the event this Friday.
The Marine at our table was hungry beyond the measure of the meal's servings. Several of the women at the table shared their chicken with him. I took a tiny drop of gravy off my plate with a knife, and then scraped it onto the edge of his plate. I said, "You have my respect, but you ain't getting my chicken." We laughed, and I believe that respect is something we can all share.
We can share, too, the focus of the prayer: If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again. The world would be better for it.
Listen to Life is a free newsletter about learning and getting more from life by paying attention to our own stories and the stories of others, based on the presentations, writings, photography and workshops by Dion McInnis (www.dionmcinnis.com). Copyright 2011 Dion McInnis. All rights reserved.