Chapter 34: All good things come to an end...again

I settled into my new home only to find out that in three weeks, I would be officially discharged again. It was hard to keep my mind in the game, but I did my best. I showed up to work, corrected Marine's paperwork, ran and worked out during lunch, sent out secure messages and went home. The next day was a repeat of the previous day. It was like Groundhog's Day. I realized that towards the end of this stint, my heart just wasn't in it anymore. There was something about serving in  the Fleet Marine Corps that made it seem real. Serving in my home town just made it seem like any other job, so it just didn't feel special anymore. This is when I realized, my time would soon be over with.
At the end of May 2003, I was officially discharged from the Marine Corps for the second time. At 1615, I put on my shorts and t-shirt,  gave my uniforms to the Marines in the office, and said my good-byes. It was easier this time around as I didn't have any personal relationships with these Marines. This was the cleanest and easiest good-bye I ever had.
As I reflect on the 5 1/2 years that I served with the United States Marine Corps, I will admit, it was the absolute best decision that I made in my life. I wouldn't have the life that I have now if it weren't for the Marine Corps. I learned to stand up for myself, to be an adult, to be responsible and to be a good friend.
I have shared with you all some of my fondest memories, but I did leave out the bad memories. Trust me, there were quite a few life-changing events that occurred. I have learned that sometimes bad memories should just remain just that, memories. There is no point to bring up things that make you unhappy. Dwelling on the negative only makes you negative, and who wants to be negative? I will say that these tragic events made me the strong person that I am today, and I although some experiences are bad, I learned a lot from them.
So I go back to my original thought. My hobby is Facebook, and still is. Am I loser because of my addiction? Maybe, but nothing like Charlie Sheen. I am thankful for the Marine friends that I have found on Facebook. Over time, we managed to lose touch with one another, however, once we found each other, it was as though no time had passed. That's when you know that you made genuine friends. 
The Marine Corps, to this day, is still my extended family. I love running into Marines, whether it be at the airport, the mall or at a sporting event. I never thought I would be one of those people that said, "Well I served in the Marine Corps too, blah, blah, blah." Growing up, I wondered why Veterans did that. I always thought they dwelled on the past just like the high school quarterback that always brings up that one, game-winning touchdown. But once you become a Vet, you get it. You know why it is a big deal. Whether you served in a war or served during peacetime, you made a sacrifice. I earned that title Marine. The pride I have in me will never be taken away from me. I stand up a little straighter when I say, " I am a Marine." Once a Marine, always a Marine.  And with that I say, Semper Fidelis.

A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "'The United States of America", for an amount "up to, and including my life".  That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.  Author unknown


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