I believe in marines. In the early fall of 2006, I watched as my closest friend and first love prepared mentally and physically to leave and become one of the few and the proud. With tears streaming down my cheeks and heartache in my voice, I told him that I loved him one final time before what would be a four month separation. Having ended our two year relationship just weeks before simply because our lives are headed in different directions, I struggled to keep the letters I sent him as upbeat and unemotional as possible, but deep down, it was killing me to not have him by my side. Every letter I received from him was one of complete misery, incredible regret, and aching loneliness, and in every letter, he asked me the same question time and time again to take him back and be his one and only. Reading the heartache in his letters and denying him the response he hoped for destroyed my heart and put a weight on my chest that depressed me more than any amount of loneliness in my life ever had. I was angry. Angry that we were both in so much pain, angry that I couldn’t help him, and angry that the marines was no longer the dream he had imagined and wished for since he was a little boy. Suddenly, the letters stopped coming. I continued to write him but for over a month found nothing but silence. Frustrated and exhausted, my hope in our letters, as well as our love, faded.
In his last few weeks of basic training, he sent me the most profound and mature letter I have ever received from anyone. He was no longer the boy I met and fell in love with three years ago. He had become a man in every way and made it a point to let me know the changes his body, mind, and heart have gone through during his time at Paris Island. When we were dating, he would constantly stress to me to live in the moment and take each day as it came. He told me in his last letter that it was now his job to live in the today so I can have a tomorrow to worry about. Willing to die for others and fully responsible to put lives into his very own hands, he revealed a whole new man. He was content in letting me go so that he and I can both fulfill the purpose set before us. He was no longer this selfish boy who wandered through life, but a man who accepted his life as disposable to save someone he may never know. This is a man to be loved, respected, and admired. This is what I believe in. This is a marine.
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