Forty-four years ago a group of guys in their early to mid twenties went to Marine Corps Basic School at Quantico, Virginia. Recently many of them returned to Quntico to renew old friendships, recall outlandish tales of their USMC experiences, and remember their classmates who did not return from a war so long ago and yet so clearly edged in their minds. My husband and I were one of the few married couples with a baby during Basic School. I didn’t get to join in many of the social events because of our little one, but I loved to have the bachelors over for a home-cooked meal. They all became “uncles” to our daughter.
At the dinner, I found myself wanting to sit in an out-of-the-way corner and watch. There were gray-haired men and bald men with stomachs protruding slightly over belts, but that look in their eyes was the same one I remembered forty-four years ago. It was as though they had never been apart from each other. My husband says there is a bond that stays for a lifetime when you are in a war, “watching each other’s back.” Most all were retired, but they had lived a life of purpose and courage. I was proud to have been there during the beginning, and I cried with many of those present when we had a memorial service for their fallen brothers at the small chapel just up from the Marine Memorial Museum. Oh, the wives there still got together in small groups during the reunion and related our “retired wives” stories. Regardless of the silly frustrations of living together 24/7, I also could see the love and pride in the wives’ eyes. They were probably seeing what we had all seen four decades ago…just darn good-looking Marines!