Happy 4th of July people!! Since I generally write about the wild side of life, it seems only fitting to acknowledge a Marine Corps homecoming; they who live their lives more wild than most. This week over 800 Marines and Sailors returned home to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from Africa and the middle east. Although deployments and homecomings are quite common here, they are never treated routinely. It’s a glorious sight to see, feel and hear. You never know how awaiting loved ones are going to respond when they lay eyes on their Marine after so many months of separation. Emotions are raw, uninhibited and intense. Corpsman and ambulances always stand by. A company of Patriot Guard Riders thundered in on motorcycles from everywhere across the nation to “show respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security” and to show their support for the families tormented every moment they marked time until this very day of homecoming. Before the swarm of helicopters appears overhead, the names of all the wives, fiances and girlfriends (a few husbands, too) are put in a bucket and one lucky name is drawn for the first kiss. After all helicopters have hovered, landed and parked in a linear formation (which is an aerial display unequalled), the unit falls in formation and marches toward the cheering crowd held back by appropriateness, experience and flimsy bright yellow tape.
The first kiss winner is escorted beyond the tape to find her or his Marine. The union is met with an explosion of cheers from the eagerly wanting crowd. The tape is then dropped and it is sheer, joyous bedlam.
Marines don’t get into the politics of war (vocally). I’m sure they have their personal views. Our all volunteer military signs on to serve this country and much like marriage vows, the oath they take is for better or worse. As a Marine retiree, I look at all of them much similarly to my children (they were, once). I’m happy to see these Marines home safe, but the lump in my throat is felt for those servicemen and women serving in all parts of the world who didn’t or won’t make it back and those whose physical or mental abilities are forever changed by injury. But on that day I swallowed the cockleburs and spent my energy celebrating the courageous men and women before me. There will be many books written about this war, but I probably won’t read any. I know enough. Semper Fi!
View Marine Homecoming Video http://www.jdnews.com/video/_49459___video.html/_.html
Happy Independence Day, America! Land of the free because of the brave!
author of “Save Them All”