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I had yet to realize how my life was about to change. I was about to move 1,500 miles from home to somewhere I never thought I'd go. My hometown was something of a military hub, housing an Army fort and Air Force bases, but I was unaware of what it was like to live in one. I hadn't considered anything else. I felt overwhelmed.
My husband joined the Marine Corps three years before we started dating, though we've known each other since 16. When he joined, we had been out of touch for a while.
When he came to visit me, I was proud to stand next to him. I'd grown up in a family who greatly respected the military, but that life was so distant to me. I knew of the Marine Corps, but I was oblivious to the depth of its culture. I knew Marines were the elite of American forces, the best of the best.
"The few, the proud, the Marines."
I went to the Marine Corps Ball when we were engaged to be married. The ceremony was astonishing. The pride, in and of itself, was overpowering. Yet, I still had not grasped the idea that I was about to become part of it.
It took me three days to get here from Texas. I couldn't wait to see my husband.
He was excited to have me here. He wanted to show and teach me everything about the Marine Corps. I was indifferent to it all. We were newlyweds. My main focus was my marriage.
I hadn't realized I also married the Marine Corps.
One morning, after his commute to work, he convinced me to watch "Colors." I humored him and told him I'd stick around to catch it. I did not understand the significance, but my new husband had asked me so sweetly. How could I turn him down? I parked the car with a few minutes before the five-minute warning.
I fumbled around on my iPhone, waiting for the opportunity to leave.
I'm glad I didn't.
Once "To the Colors" started, Marines froze, turned toward the flag and brought their hands to the brim of their covers in a salute. Cars came to a halt, no matter where they were on the road. The raising of the flag took center stage.
I watched the world go still. All at once, I was overcome by a newfound sense of pride and loyalty.
Finally, reality had taken root. That beautiful flag is the symbol of our country. It is a reminder of troops, past and present, who have fought and died so we can raise it today. I had just realized these Marines were a big part of that legacy.
It was amazing.
I've seen Old Glory raised hundreds of times, but here it meant so much more.
This has been my husband's life for the past three years and now it's mine as well. I am lucky to be a part of this.
This is my home.