I have been married to my Marine while he has served more than 20 years.We have had nine departures and nine homecomings and the mini-honeymoons that come along with them.
As we get ready to celebrate the 238th Birthday of the USMC, I've been thinking about all the many reasons we chose this life. But more importantly, I've been thinking about all the reasons I have to be glad we live this life.
1. The love of my next door neighbors. This may sound trite but I truly enjoy meeting people from all over the world and all walks of life. I have lived next door to amazing people and have maintained those friendships over the years. It is nice to know that wherever the Marine Corps may move us, it is likely we already know people in the new location.
2. The ability to out-Gumby even Gumby. I have learned the meaning of "Semper Gumby," the unofficial motto of Marine spouses. Yes, this is a good thing. The ability to be "always flexible" is a personal challenge for me but when I practice this flexibility, my whole family benefits.
3. Strength to emotionally bench press a million pounds. As a result of learning to be Semper Gumby, I have learned how strong I am. That inner strength has been tested through difficult moves, illnesses, teenagers, and yes, long separations and I have survived.
4. The company I keep. I have not lived this life alone. With my Marine by my side along with my three Marine Corps "brats" ( sorry guys), we have weathered these ups and downs together. We have become a strong family that will stay close even when my kids have moved on to start their own families.
5. Something bigger than we are ourselves. At every promotion, I listen to my Marine restate his oath. I am reminded of the purpose he is part of that is much bigger than he is. This leads to number 6.
6. Work that is more than just a paycheck. The Marine Corps is more than just a job, it is a full culture immersion. I'm not trying to sound like a recruiting poster but this really is a lifestyle and our whole family has lived it. Once I became comfortable with the idea of the Marine Corps being a lifestyle, the easier it became for the whole family. We faced the challenges and successes together.
7. No better protection. I feel safer knowing that Marines are standing at a gate or on a wall protecting our freedom. I don't take their commitment lightly and I know they don't either. I respect those that have chosen this life and I respect their commitment.
8. Awesome uniform. Then there are the uniforms. I respect anyone that wears the uniform and yes, a military uniform is something special but you have to admit that the Marine Corps got it right with their uniforms. I love standing next to my Marine when he is fully "kitted out" in his uniform. It is truly a pleasure to walk on the arm of a Marine in full dress uniform. My heart is pounding just thinking about it.
9. Resilient children become strong adults. My kids have lived this life with us and really had very little choice in it. But they have grown to be strong, independent, capable, and resilient. They are grown and only the youngest is still with us but I have watched my older two out on their own become caring, sensitive, and strong adults. They understand how small our world is and know they can make a difference because they watched their father make a difference.
10. The honor to be a part of an organization that helped found this nation. As soon as my Marine earned his Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, he earned the right to call himself a Marine, even after he takes off the uniform. He is part of a 238 year legacy of warriors.
So those are my top 10 reasons for why I am glad we chose this life. In honor of those that have served, those currently serving, and those training to serve, Happy 238th Birthday, United States Marine Corps!
Melinda Rau is a Marine spouse currently stationed in Australia.