The elevator hummed. I stood in the lobby of the office building, waiting to ride the elevator up to the Marine Corps Officer Selection office. Next to me stood the Gunnery Sergeant and a civilian lady who worked in the same office building, all three of us waiting for the elevator to take us to our respective floors. The Gunny and I were in the middle of a conversation, and the lady next to us simply stared at the elevator doors patiently. With a gentle “Ding”, the doors slid open with grace. Being the closest to the elevator, I took a step forward to enter first. As I began moving, I felt a hand on my shoulder. The Gunnery Sergeant tapped my shoulder and respectfully gestured to the lady, “Go ahead ma’am.” She smiled politely, and preceded us into the elevator.
Upstairs, as the Gunny and I walked into the office, he looked me in the eyes, and with the patience of a teacher, he explained something to me. “You need to remember something. We as Marines are called to be the fiercest fighters on the planet, and to do things that no one else can do. But when we are at home, we represent the Marine Corps to our countrymen. We need to carry honor and respect in everything we do, so that every action and every decision will reflect that honor. Even in the smallest things.”
I learned that all Marines wear a uniform that is very specific. It is a uniform not visible to the eyes. It is a uniform that they never remove.