Before my daughter enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, I pictured all Marines as simple (two meanings there) grunts. Overly trained (i.e. brainwashed) men who came home as very different people than when they left; even emotionally damaged, in some cases, whether they had seen combat or not. This was obviously not a change for the better, so I was somewhat wary when Anna announced her enlistment. I knew she had wanted to be in the service since she was thirteen years of age, but my God, the Marine Corps???

But I have learned. Anna's depiction of other Marines as human beings, educated in the concept of discipline rather than brainwashed. Male and female - not only males. Disciplined, but not averse to having fun, on and off the job. Far from it!

In my experience, wit and humor improve both general attitude and job performance. Bad attitudes lead to substandard performance, regardless of occupation.

The final experience that cemented my new understanding of Marines was at Christmas 2008, when I met my son-in-law Taylor, a former Marine whom Anna has known since high school. A friendly, well-mannered man and loving husband who in no fashion resembles the twisted individual described in the first paragraph.

Now I routinely pay close attention to any news stories that mention the Corps.

My fear (I grew up during the Vietnam conflict, so Reagan's saber-rattling unnerved both me and my friends) and immaturity kept me out of the service; a truly bogus excuse to be sure. I only truly wished to serve shortly after passing the age of eligibility.

I feel that I did eventually serve my country, though, by spending four years designing electronics for military vehicles and devices. I was on the original design team for the Stryker vehicle and its variants. I take special satisfaction in participating in that project.

And so I say, God Bless the United States Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy and all others who serve - from the front lines to the designers.

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