Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Semper Gumby and Sacrifice

Semper Gumby
One of the first things I learned as a Military Partner is that the Military does not bend for you, your life, your plans or your love. Semper Fidelis (forever faithful) is the motto of the United States Marine Corps. It's a beautiful sentiment, I think it's something a lot of us can aspire to.

Semper Gumby (forever flexible), is the unofficial and "too true" motto of USMC families and friends--and I would argue much of the rest of the Military as well. It goes along with the "Hurry up and wait" saying. Semper Gumby has been a direct but difficult lesson for me in the time I've been with my Marine. The lesson is: You can't PLAN anything... rather, if you schedule something, you can anticipate that the government can and will (without hesitation or notice), scramble those plans for you.

This "scrambling" can manifest in different forms. It could be the day he gets back from his deployment is changed 5 different times. It could be that a Marine can't be there for his wife while she gives birth to their first child. It could be that his tour is extended "only" a few more months and your plans to travel during your vacation time is shot...

In the beginning I thought that logic would prevail. Foolishly, I believed that "they" wouldn't do such a thing as plan inconvenient trainings or missions; or that if my Marine told whomever was responsible, that he already had plans, that he would be able to get out of whatever responsibility "they" were trying to give him. Oh how I was wrong...

When the President of the United States talks about the "sacrifice," I don't think the general public understands what it means. I am certain that I didn't know what that "sacrifice" meant a year ago... I am slowly grasping what it entails. It has morphed from an intangible concept to a reality. My understanding of this sacrifice is still shallow (maybe I'll look back after 5 deployments and laugh at what I'm writing now)...

But this is what I know now. Sacrifice is not being able to have what you want or what you think you need (your bf, husband, your best friend, your stability, comfort, etc.) for 7-36 months at a time, so that the country can sleep safely through the night. He might not be in a war zone, he might not be face-to-face with terrorists (although many of our troops currently are); he is still serving his country by doing what the country asks him to do, and we wait until they get home. Sacrifice includes the possibility that he might not come back the way he left you; it includes the possibility that he not come back at all... It's all a part of that word "sacrifice."

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