Importance of Marines' appearance
IWAKUNI, Japan - From parachute pants and jumpsuits to skinny jeans and high-top shoes, fashion and style continues to change throughout the decades.
As Marines progress through their military careers, the words “higher standard,” are heard on a regular basis, especially when it concerns behavior, on and off duty, and appropriate civilian attire.
But what is the “higher standard?”
According to Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Melton, squadron gunnery sergeant of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, the higher standard is “the bar” a Marine sets for him to standout and become a role model for others. One of the key factors, according to Melton, is the appearance of a Marine in civilian clothing.
“Civilian attire for anyone that is on active duty service is important because not only are we professionals when we wear the uniform and do our jobs, we are also professionals when we are away from work,” said Melton. “When we voluntarily enlist, or get commissioned, we are accepting the sacrifice and responsibility of being a military person. Part of the sacrifice is knowing that we have to be held to a higher standard. We are held accountable, not only in our professional life, but our personal life.”
Some may say the importance of public appearance in civilian clothing is more important overseas rather than in the United States, but according to Master Gunnery Sgt. Juan D. Valdivia, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of station Installation Personnel Administration Center, all Marines should be upholding the standard, no matter where they are in the world.
“In my opinion, it doesn’t even matter,” said Valdivia. “It’s a daily routine. Why should this place be more special than the states? You are a Marine 24/7, do the right thing regardless. Either here or over there, you do the right thing. That’s why there are regulations. Those regulations tell you how to dress appropriately. The same thing goes for grooming standards. There shouldn’t be more emphasis placed overseas because we are ambassadors, it should be normal, it should be a routine.”
Valdivia said that the thing that makes Marines who they are is not just following the rules, but acting in a professional manner while out in public that makes a Marine stand out.
According to Melton, no matter how much society may change, the Marine Corps will always have its bar set and expect each and every Marine to exceed it.
“That’s one thing that sets apart the Marine Corps from every other branch of service,” said Melton. “Knowing our history and our tradition, how deep and strong they are, that’s one of the things that keeps us as a United States Marine.”
Melton added, even with society and culture changing, one thing that will never change is the willingness of a Marine to go out of his or her way, to stand apart from the norm, by making themselves look professional, on and off duty.
“That’s what a United States Marine is,” said Melton.