When a young woman starts thinking of falling in love and getting married, many thoughts come to mind as she visualizes the “perfect man, perfect wedding and the perfect life.” Like most young girls, I too dreamed of the qualities that my Prince Charming should definitely possess. With those dreams came my vision of an engagement ring, wedding, the little cottage with the picket fence, and of course the pack of children that would greet Dad at the door as he came home from work at a very lucrative job.
My family was affected by the draft so I never really paid much attention to any branch of the service other than the Army. In fact, when I saw those USMC recruiters in their dress blues coming in and out of the recruiting station on my corner, I used to think how pompous and stuck up they all looked in those flashy, highly decorated uniforms.
Imagine how surprised I was when the man of my dreams was a newly discharged Marine. As we planned for our big day, the time came for us to choose our wedding bands. As tradition would have it, we tried to pick just the right message to have engraved inside, meanwhile the wedding plans continued.
Never did my vision of the future, ever include dress blues, base housing, frequent moves, unaccompanied deployments, the miles away from family and friends, sewing on of chevrons, or the long hours spent ironing Uilities or the precision creases in UDs. Yet, as fate had it, that is exactly what my future held for me. I would have bet money on the fact that it never would have happened in my lifetime. Needless to say, when MY Prince Charming put me on his white horse in Buffalo, NY, they didn’t stop galloping until I was clear across the country at MCRD San Diego, California, and by then, baby number one was in the saddle too.
Being the good Marine Corps wife that I endeavored to be, I came to understand, appreciate, and admire the tradition behind the uniform in spite of my initial negative impression. A big surprise came when I also learned of the Marine Corps motto: Semper Fidelis. With those words, the dawn opened up, and I knew I had heard those words before. Then it came to me, prior to our marriage, when my husband suggested that the Latin form of “always faithful” would be the perfect engraving in our wedding bands, naive little me thought it was sooo romantic, and appropriate. Guess what had been selected as the engraving on those rings of gold? You guessed it, there on my finger, in MY WEDDING BAND, were the words, “Semper Fidelis!!”
Today, I wonder just what did that mean? Did the Marine Corps motto signify that my husband was, and always will be faithful to that elite brotherhood? Or, did it signify that he and I would always be faithful to each other? I don’t think I will ever truly know the answer to that question, but as I see it, does it really matter? In either situation, NO meaning could be MORE appropriate or more honorable in withstanding the tests of time, and in the development of pride and honor. The Corps has been my life for many years and as such, I laugh about the trusting innocence of a young girl, and I cherish the memories and experiences of the dependent spouse. The only thing I still haven’t figured out yet is who I married? Does the inscription mean that I married the prince, or did it mean that I married the United States Marine Corps? You decide.