I’ve been a military spouse for almost two years, and I dated my airman for four years before that. I like to think our time dating was a great jump-start into figuring out this lifestyle, but when we got married everything about the military was like diving headfirst into cold water.
In other words: it was a giant wake-up call that I really didn’t know anything about how the military works. Here I am, almost a two-year-old military spouse and I’m still finding things that surprise me! Take, for example, my shock at a military-wide protocol I never knew existed.
Soon after my husband and I arrived to our new OCONUS location, we decided to see a movie since the base theater was just around the corner from our TLF. We got to the movie, picked our seats, and started chatting before the movie started. I noticed an array of people coming in for the flick and marveled at the dozen teenagers who sat in the first two rows. I thought it was wonderful that they had something relatively fun to do on a random Thursday night. In America they could be out anywhere, doing just about anything, but here, they’re all hanging out and seeing a movie together. While I'm sure seeing a movie on base wasn't their first choice, it was still nice to see.
But I digress. We were people watching and talking, when all of a sudden familiar music started playing. Within milliseconds, the chattering stopped and everyone stood straight up with hands over their hearts. Every person in the theater moved in sync, almost like trained robots. I, not entirely sure what was going on, fumbled to stand up, looked around, and quickly mimicked everyone else in the theater.
And just like that—BAM—the military threw me for another loop.
Of course I know it’s respectful to stand up for the National Anthem, but that was one of the last places I thought I’d hear that familiar tune. A baseball game? Absolutely! But at a movie theater? Now that's a whole new ball game for me. The thing that surprised me the most was that for everyone else, it was completely normal and even expected to hear it before the movie began.
After we sat down I asked my husband what just happened. He responded by looking at me like I was from another planet and then said, “We stood for the National Anthem…duh.” This was clearly not a surprise for him and he later told me he was sorry for not warning me, but he thought I knew. I didn’t know, and now I’m wondering how many more quirky surprises I’ll discover in the future. Luckily, the next time we saw a movie on base I was more than prepared—and even a little bit excited—to stand for the anthem.
Do you remember the first time the military threw you for a loop with something out of the ordinary?