I grew up in a base town....I saw first hand all of the people called
"grunts" and "jerks" and the havoc they wreaked not only in their homes,
but on the base and in the town. I left that town thinking every marine was
a "grunt" and swearing that I would never marry one, let alone date one. As
much as I am ashamed to say it, I must admit that I harbored a hate for
marines and all that they stood for.

I moved three thousand miles away from that hometown and that marine base
as soon as I was old enough to. In my new home I met a wonderful man with
whom I fell in love. He displayed all of the qualities that those "grunts"
seemed to be missing, and none of the qualities that made those Marines
"grunts". He was the last person I could ever see as a Marine. He is gentle
and loving, He loves pets and children, and he seemed almost too good to be
true. He is one of the most honorable men I have ever met, so I should not
have been surprised the day he told me that he wanted to be an officer in
the Marines.

But I was. I was surprised and angry. I was sure that those "horrible"
people were going to ruin this man that I had come to love. I resented him
and the Marines for doing this to me.

Yet, for some reason I stood by him through OCS and TBS.

I have learned more in the last year than I have learned in the last 25
years of my life. I have learned a tremendous amount about myself and seen
sides of myself I never imagined....both good and bad. I want to impart to
you what I have learned:

I have learned that I am not as diverse and understanding in my thinking as
I had previously thought. I have come to realize that I am prejudiced,
specifically against those men who make up the corp. I have learned that I
am far more selfish than I thought and that I am far more giving and
malleable than I ever thought possible. I have learned that I am too
outspoken on things I don't know a lot about and that I am not outspoken
enough on those issues on which I should speak up. I have learned that I am
much weaker than I thought and I have learned that I have this amazing
strength that I never knew existed. I have learned that I learned that I am
more independent than I ever imagined yet I have also learned that it is
okay to need others sometimes.

I have learned that the Marines are not "grunts". I have learned that there
is so much to admire these men and women for. I have learned that they have
more courage, honesty and loyalty than I ever imagined any one person or
any million people could have.

The Marines taught not only their recruits teamwork and respect, but they
also taught me it as well. I have learned a lot, but I have learned a
miniscule amount, compared to what so many men and women have learned in
their process to become Marines and officers.

I admit that I am not willing to give a part of my life to this country in
the way that these men and women have. I do not have the courage to
sufficiently challenge myself to carry the honor of being a Marine on my
shoulders, nor do I have the stamina to receive the emotional and physical
challenges these men and women face everyday to become stronger and better

But I have the courage to admit that I was wrong.

So to every Marine out there, and to every Marine's spouse who stands
beside him or her, I send you my profuse apologies.

Never again will I make such harsh assumptions about any individual or
group. You deserve my admiration and you deserve the respect of all who
know you.

So to all of you out there who have made unkind remarks about the Corp and
those men and women in it. Remember, that it takes all kinds to make up
this world, but no one holds themselves more responsible for those in it
than the Marine Corp. No one deserves more respect than these people who
have so much courage and honor.

To my loving fiancé, Michael, thank you for teaching me so much about
myself. To the Marines, thank you for teaching me so much about the world.

contributed by Stacia [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.