Justin Goes to the Ball

You have probably read about the invitations that actors Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake received, via YouTube, to attend two separate Marine Corps balls. Both accepted the invitations, and on Saturday night, Timberlake attended the Basic School Instructor Battalion 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball with Marine Corporal Kelsey DeSantis. It might have sounded like a publicity stunt–I know next to nothing about Justin Timberlake and had never heard of Ms. Kunis–but Timberlake wrote about the evening on his web site with obvious sincerity:

I’m writing this out to all of you after attending an event that turned out to be one of the most moving evenings I’ve ever had…

I had the honor and privilege last night of attending The Basic School Instructor Battalion 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball at the Greater Richmond Convention Center with Corporal Kelsey DeSantis…

I knew I would have an evening that I wouldn’t forget… Something I could tell my friends about. What I didn’t know was how moved I would be by the whole experience.

I’ve always been very vocal about my support of our Armed Forces. I’ve always felt like they offered us the opportunity to live our lives freely without the fear that so many other nations have to endure still to this day. And, they do it without asking for anything in return.

It’s all worth reading. Timberlake liked Corporal DeSantis and was surprised at the concern she showed about whether he was having a good time–which tells you something, perhaps, about the young women he meets in Hollywood.

What happened then took me by such surprise that I was almost brought to tears. In fact, our whole table was…

They started the ceremony. And, the next thing I knew I was watching a video about Pearl Harbor/WW2 and the September 11 terrorist attacks… It was a video with some first-hand accounts from some Marines who were there… Telling their stories of the sights and sounds of war and rescue. So vivid and real. So honest but, so filled with a sense of compassion and adoration for this wonderful country. They spoke with a pride that only they could have acquired through their experience as a US Marine.

Like many, I am inclined to be pessimistic about the baleful effects of our popular culture. One thing that really has changed, however, is the respect that is accorded our military. It is not unanimous, by any means, but compared to the attitudes among entertainers etc. of 40 or 50 years ago, it is night and day. Happily, the appreciation that Timberlake expresses for military men and women is no longer rare in the popular culture.

UPDATE: Via commenter Mike Hill, here is the video that the Marines and Mr. Timberlake watched Saturday night: