This Memorial Day shout-out goes to Mom and Dad, both of whom served in the U.S. Marines. Neither made a career of it, being content to fulfill their ROTC requirements and re-enter civilian life. Though the military life enforces uniformity, it seems to have had very different effects on my parents.
I'm of course unsure how military service shaped Mom and Dad, not having known them in their pre-parent days. Dad, who doesn't talk about the experience much, apparently looks back on military service as that long, dull stretch when he had to take orders from idiots. The joys of gunpowder offered little novelty to him, alas, as he'd grown up using firearms (ditto, Mom). Dad walked away with some cool gear, at least—I use his old duffel bag to this day.
Mom looks back on her stint in the Marines more fondly, and with greater pride. She entered the Marines a wide-eyed farm girl from Missouri, back in the day when rather few women served. She left them a widely-traveled young woman who had earned salutes from leather-necked grunts. Mom volunteers at the local V.A. hospital, these days, and says she wants to settle in there when and if she grows infirm. From Mom's service I got not hardware, but one of my favorite expressions about the importance of choosing your battles wisely: "I don't want to die on that hill!"
Here's to you, Mom and Dad: Oorah!