I lived among them for just less than two years.
When I was home, and many of them away, their kids played with my kids and they called me the "block Dad." When I was away and they saw my wife was not coping, there was no gossip and no blame, only action; and so they came and gathered her and my kids and kept them safe until I returned. Sunset meant the men sat in each other's driveways sipping an after-dinner beer and telling stories with the dogs and kids playing on the lawns. If someone's car broke down, tools and handbooks appeared from all over until it ran again.
Help was always subtle. The movie "Saving Private Ryan" was in theaters back then. Red's wife stops me on the sidewalk to say, "Red is determined to see that movie, but he is not sure how he is going to take it. I only mention it so you can keep an eye on him. He might be struggling for a few days." She told no one else. Red did fine, reliving some of his stories with
me the next few days, and stopping short and leaving the rest untold when his eyes teared up, but he was himself.
That was the only real community I have ever known. We took care of each other and valued each other. We had to, because it was our community and moreover it was right. I often think how that ought to be describing the Church. I never wore their uniform, but they treated me and my family as if I was one of them, and I am thankful.
Happy birthday to the United States Marine Corps.