Justin Timberlake: Marine Corps Ball “changed my life”

posted at 1:55 pm on November 14, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Popstar Justin Timberlake was largely the reason actress Mila Kunis accepted an invitation to attend an upcoming Marine Corps Ball — but Cpl. Kelsey DeSantis was the reason Timberlake found himself moved almost to tears at a similar event Saturday night, a night the celebrity writes “changed [his] life.”

After Timberlake publicly urged his Friends with Benefits costar Kunis to say “yes” to the request she received from a serviceman, DeSantis invited Timberlake — via YouTube — to the Nov. 12 Instructor Battalion Marine Corps Ball in Richmond, Va.

“You want to call out my girl Mila?” De Santis asked in a video. “Well, I’m going to call you out and ask you to come to the Marine Corps ball with me on Nov. 12.”

Timberlake accepted and, Saturday night, he kept his promise.

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

The GQ favorite has always been a vocal supporter of the armed forces — but his glimpse into the camaraderie and closeness of the Marine Corps taught him he’ll never fully understand just what men and women in uniform endure for us — and also that he can never appreciate them enough.

A video tribute to the Marines particularly took Timberlake by surprise:

While this tribute was playing, you could hear a pin drop. It was a surreal moment to be in that room with so many of our great Marines who have such a different type of connection to those stories. One that we who don’t serve will NEVER understand. It was familial. It was like they were listening to their own blood brothers. I glanced around the room at young men and women, spouses and soldiers… At kids way beyond their years, really… All so deeply entwined. Not just by battle, even though we who have never endured anything remotely close to those experiences and have NO position to comment on… But, by having such life changing experiences through them and to not ever waver in their love and respect for our homeland. That’s what I saw. A faith in us that has been tested time and time again. And, through it all, NEVER a drop of doubt. …

The night inspired Timberlake to call on his family, friends and fans to separate their views of war from support for the troops and to intentionally thank those who serve the cause of freedom worldwide.

We all have our own individual views on war… But, doesn’t that speak to just another thing that makes this country so special?? The fact that we can all wake up every morning and BE individual with a pure sense of freedom..? But, one thing that can’t be argued is that it’s because of the people who VOLUNTEER their lives to make sure that it’s protected at all times. And, like I said before, doing so while asking for nothing in return…

To people like me who get to benefit from this type of person… One with character and courage. With strength and bravery. With humility and honor… I say: Send your thanks. Do it however you can. Write a letter, type an email… Hell, buy ‘em a beer next time you run into someone from our Armed Forces in a bar. When they say thank you for that drink that cost you 3 bucks, they’ll mean it. They won’t take it for granted and, they won’t forget it.

This phenomenon of inviting celebrities to personally experience some element of American life they wouldn’t otherwise encounter — whether a Marine Corps Ball or a Tea Party rally — seems a healthy development to me, a way of bridging the disconnect. Reading Timberlake’s reaction to this weekend’s event really makes me hope it continues.


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Yesterday Tim McGraw gave a free concert at USMC Camp Pendleton near San Diego for anyone holding a military ID or VA ID and their families. After days of rain, Sunday dawned bright, sunny & warm. Hope everyone enjoyed the concert. Thank you Tim for supporting our troops!

in_awe on November 14, 2011 at 8:14 PM

This was nice. However, something tells me if he gets a lot of positive press out of it lots of other celebrities might start showing up for fakey photo ops at military events…

scalleywag on November 14, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Sort like Michelle Obama having suddenly found the plight of service families to be her “calling” right as the 2012 campaign got rolling. Disgusting. Anyone want to bet how many days after the election, she decides her work on that “project” is done?

in_awe on November 14, 2011 at 8:25 PM

I hope JT is sincere. He seems like a good clean cut kid, but I know how corrupting Hollyweird can be.

I also agree with him and portlandon. Go out of your way to let those who serve to know how much you appreciate them. Friday night I took out a couple of my buddies for Veterans Day (both former Navy and both now police officers), to show them my thanks. I got caught up in the moment and before I knew it, I offered to buy a drink for any serviceman that would tell me their story. I ended with a $700 bar tab, but the people I met and the stories I heard as well as their appreciation was worth many times that.

ReaganWasRight on November 14, 2011 at 3:14 PM

That is so cool and a twist I never thought about.

I do the same thing as portlandon (pay anonymously to anyone in uniform). However that may be more expensive (and worth it) but work just as well.

F15Mech on November 14, 2011 at 8:31 PM

I do the same thing as portlandon (pay anonymously to anyone in uniform). However that may be more expensive (and worth it) but work just as well.

F15Mech on November 14, 2011 at 8:31 PM

I had the pleasure of doing this while I was in DC on business. 4 service members came into this nice restaurant not far from the pentagon and I had my server ask them if they were in the military. If so, get them a drink of their choice and put it on my tab. I was not quite as lucky to be able to do it anonymously as there were few of us there at a very early dinner hour, they did come by and thank me. I was then able to thank them personally for their service.

We can never do enough.

karenhasfreedom on November 14, 2011 at 8:43 PM

karenhasfreedom on November 14, 2011 at 8:43 PM

Thank you for that.

In a place that is not busy paying anonymously would be difficult.

However if you are in a busy airport restaurant (say ATL or DFW) for a long layover the charges can get a bit high.

F15Mech on November 14, 2011 at 8:58 PM

…but easy to stay anonymous

F15Mech on November 14, 2011 at 8:59 PM

neat story. Way to go CPL Desantis.

Justin, you’re one lucky dude, she is a Marine!

ted c on November 14, 2011 at 9:51 PM

Maybe more celebrities oughta try meeting our Heroes instead of ripping on them.

Tony737 on November 14, 2011 at 10:34 PM

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

I said it it would happen, I said it it would happen, I said it it would happen.

Marines know more than how to fight. They know who to have a good time.

Good on him for going. Double good on him speaking out about his experience.

Man I miss the annual balls and the occasional mess nights. Fun most people only dream about.

Happy Birthday Marines. God love you, I know I do.

Hog Wild on November 14, 2011 at 10:38 PM

darn it…

“how to have a good time”

Hog Wild on November 14, 2011 at 10:39 PM

This phenomenon of inviting celebrities to personally experience some element of American life they wouldn’t otherwise encounter — whether a Marine Corps Ball or a Tea Party rally — seems a healthy development to me, a way of bridging the disconnect

Well, it seems juvenile and silly to me as I don’t give a flying frog leap what any “celebrity”, most of whom are very stupid anyway, thinks about anything.

InkyBinkyBarleyBoo on November 15, 2011 at 12:53 AM

Well there goes the ban on NSYNC music from the White House.

SmallGovtGuy on November 15, 2011 at 5:59 AM

Good on him.

esnap on November 15, 2011 at 6:39 AM

Justin Timberlake: Marine Corps Ball “changed my life”

Note to Justin: Be judged by your actions, not your words.

Wade on November 15, 2011 at 8:57 AM

Good job Justin. I still don’t like your music much, but I do appreciate good character and integrity…

Maybe team up with Tim McGraw for a freebie. He frequently shows up at Pendleton, and is appreciated by all (especially when he brings Faith along).

stacman on November 15, 2011 at 3:34 PM

Thank you, Cpl. Kelsey DeSantis!

You just made yourself a whole lot of friends, troop . . . including more than a few generations of veterans!

Sure, we all very much appreciate Justin for what he did, and for what he said afterward. That really goes without saying.

But good for you for having the moxie to set that all in motion.

Trochilus on November 15, 2011 at 4:49 PM

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