Thursday, November 6, 2008

Once a Marine, Always a Marine

Now if you aren’t familiar with the Marine Corps or the Marine Corps Birthday Ball let me explain. The Corps is the only American military branch that has an ingrained pride so deep that they bleed honor. Everything they do is with fine tuned precision and with the utmost respect and protocol. They are gentleman warriors, fiercely proud of not just their service to God and country, but also to the brotherhood of the Corps. Due to this intense pride, they make a point of celebrating the birth of their beloved corps every year. Even when on the battlefield, the birthday is properly recognized and celebrated. During Ben's time in Vietnam they had thousands of steaks, (the kind that are as thick as roasts) flown in so that every Marine could have a proper steak dinner to celebrate. This is no small blip on the calendar…no, this is an EVENT.

We’ve wanted to go to the ball for years but it just never worked out so that we could attend, so this year we planned ahead. In January, Ben purchased the tickets and the hotel suite. In March, he ordered his custom dress blues and I shopped online for ball gowns but couldn’t decide which one I wanted. I made sure his sword was still in it’s case, polished and the scabbard unscuffed. His cover (his white dress hat for those of you who don’t know the terminology) fit perfectly and he had his white dress gloves. He made sure he had almost all of his medals and ribbons (although he’s still missing a few…long story for another post) and as we got closer to the date we both got more and more excited.

Then life happened.

A slow and steady stream of things began to creep in and take precedence over everything else and the checklist of remaining final things that needed to be done to prepare for the ball were quickly put on the back burner and all but forgotten….until last night that is. We went to our monthly MCL meeting and suddenly realized that we had COMPLETELY forgotten the ball was THIS weekend….Friday night to be exact. Immediately we realized the conflict it posed for the wake and funeral…..the ball starts around the same time as the wake and the funeral Saturday starts at around the time we would be checking out of our room, and it is being held at one of the big resort casinos an hour away. Ok, no big deal….we decided to arrive at the ball late….it would be going for hours anyway…and then we’ll just check out extra early the next morning and make the hour long drive to arrive by 9.

We rushed home from the meeting early last night (9:15 is WAYYY early for those meetings), stopping at the drug store where I picked up a box of “professional” hair color. I haven’t come anywhere near coloring my own hair in over 10 years, but I am sooooooo past due for a visit to Gerald and there is no way he would be able to fit me in with less than 24 hours notice so I decided I would have to do it myself. (Side note: when the retail boxed color brands say “professional hair color”…they LIE….they only say that because they add as many extra steps to the process as possible thus giving you more room to screw up, not because of the great quality of the final color.)

We raced home and I immediately threw on my pj’s and proceeded to follow the 10 page (no I am NOT kidding) manual for the hair color and glop myself up as well as I could while Ben tried on his dress blues to see how much last minute tailoring they needed. Next I pulled my evening gowns out of the closet and began trying them on. We go to a lot of black tie functions so I have quite a few gowns and cocktail dresses on hand “just in case” but last night nothing worked. **sigh** ok, still not a big deal….I would have time to go to my FAVE store (insert shameless plug for Macy’s here) and get one Thursday night after work. Meanwhile as my hair marinated in phase 1 of the “pro” color, I went to check my email and relax for a little while.

Suddenly I hear, “Babe…….???” Followed by Ben’s footsteps as he came down the hall to the living room where I was sitting. I looked up to see he had on his dress blue coat, “Wow…don’t you look handsome…” I said smiling. Then he held up his arm….and I sank. The sleeves were too long….not any amount that would be workable either……no…this coat was made for a monkey apparently because that’s how long the sleeves were. I took a look at them to see if my seamstress could shorten them in time….no go. The superior quality of the dress uniform was very evident….this would be a MAJOR, heavily detailed fix…….and no way would it be possible in the short amount of time we had. **sigh**

Ok, no problem…..we can rent a tux or something……noooo, my sweet Marine wants his dress blues, and rightly so….he looked freaking good in them. **sigh**………so then and there we realized that no matter how much we planned, we had still dropped the ball (no pun intended) and it looks like we won’t be going this year either.

After the initial disappointment, we decided to go to anyway and make the best of it. Instead of going to the actual ball we’ll just go and enjoy a relaxing evening in the hotel suite, far from home and anybody who would try to reach us. A sort of mini vacation. So Ben went to bed and I stayed up until around 1am and finished my home hair salon visit……which by the time I was done made me remember VERY clearly why I don’t do my own hair. **sigh** The lovely red highlights came out blonde and the amber highlights came out strawberry blonde….at this point I may as well just GO blonde….lol. Oh well, the first thing out of Ben’s mouth this morning when he saw it was, “Hmmm….THAT’S different…it looks pretty……YOU look pretty.”

AWWWWWWWWWWW………….score one for my bear!!!

So I decided that even though things didn’t go at all as planned for this weekend….it still worked out because I’m going to get to have a few quiet and romantic hours with my prince charming and there’s NOTHING to complain about there. As far as the ball…..well, there’s always next year…..but I think next Monday I’m going to surprise my Marine with a steak dinner and a bottle of champagne. LOL.

1 comment:

savas beatie said...


It's evident how deeply you and your husband are committed to the Marines. Please read the following message and enjoy the link to one fellow Marine's book, Once a Marine by Nick Popaditch.

Below is a link to a Hollywood-style book trailer on for "Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander's Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery," by Nick Popaditch with Mike Steere (Savas Beatie, October 1, 2008).

Make sure you watch to the very end for a "special" photo message from "Gunny Pop" Nick. I know you will appreciate seeing him.

Nick "Gunny Pop" Popaditch is a former marine Gunnery Sergeant, a Silver Star winner, a 15-year veteran of the USMC, and was widely known around the world as "The Cigar Marine:" (Google it.). His tanks captured Firdos "Saddam" square in April 2003 and pulled down the hated statue. Nick was severely wounded one year later with an RPG to the head, which was captured live by a media news crew. He had to fight his way through an incredible odyssey of turmoil, heartbreak, and bureaucracy to recover everything he had lost. His website is

PLEASE NOTE this YouTube trailer is the LOW-resolution version. The high-resolution trailer (with full credits, etc.) will be streaming off a variety of websites including, and can be opened to full screen to fully appreciate the ending credits and power of the imagery. It will also be available for free high-resolution download, and is TV quality!

If you know anyone in the media who you think would be interested in interviewing "Gunny Pop," don't hesitate to call or email them and let them know.

We appreciate your support of Nick and his family in any way you are able. The success of this book will open doors for this blind warrior, and hopefully provide revenue and success to someone who has sacrificed so much for his country.