Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Pride of Americans

The “Tell-Your-Own-Story” military spouse contest sponsored by in connection with Lifetime TV’s Season 2 of ARMY WIVES has announced the contest winners. Their names and the winning essays can be read at

Here’s the essay by Pamela B., one of the five grand prize winners, reprinted with permission from

I have always been proud of the fact that my husband is a Marine (he joined the Corps shortly before we were married). I knew that what he did was important for our country and for the world.

However, two incidences early in his career really opened my eyes on a more personal level to the significance of Marines and all military members and their role in the lives of Americans.

After completing a marching performance at a local cultural festival in Southern California, my husband, his fellow band members, and their spouses were enjoying some treats provided by the event hosts. In mid-bite of his hotdog, a small boy approached my husband and, without saying a word, took a good look at his uniform and saluted him.

My husband hesitated only long enough to put down his food before returning the salute.

About that time, an anxious-looking woman ran up to claim her grandson. She mumbled a quick apology and was about to steer the small boy away when she saw the looks on our faces and knew that we had been moved.

Pausing, she explained that his grandfather had been a Marine and, even though the youngster was only three, his grandfather had taught him about Marines. "Now," she explained, "every time that he sees a Marine, and trust me, he knows the uniform well, he salutes."

We thanked her and her grandson, but even after all of these years, I still remember that small frame with the reverent look and the big salute.

Later that same year, during a performance at the Rose Bowl parade, my husband saw an incident that had a deep impact on him and which moved me when he shared it.

On the outside column of the unit, my husband had a clear view of the bystanders crowded along the parade route. He kept an eye out ahead to avoid any collisions with parade-goers. While scanning the audience ahead, he noticed a person in a wheelchair.

As the band got closer, the individual struggled to rise out of the chair. Two people on either side noticed what the disabled person was trying to do. Each took an arm and helped the person to his feet so that he could stand straight and tall as the Marine band and color guard passed the crowd.

These two incidents, and many others over the course of my husband's career, have given me a broader perspective, beyond my initial personal pride, of Marines and of all those that proudly serve in the armed services.

It was the actions of these two individuals that demonstrated the impact that military members make on the lives of ordinary citizens. How the uniform and those that wear it give pride, hope, and respect to Americans of all ages everywhere.

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