Written by Sarah Rossetti
Meeting Marc Lee
Busy night at the bar. I was still new to bartending, barely eighteen. My mother owned the place. At this point in my life I had no concept of the outside world. The only thing that was real to me was the raging guilt I felt over my sister’s death, I wasn’t doing much of anything close to living. I was just shutting my mind off and going to work or keeping my face stuck in a drawing pad.
At the end of the bar was a group of guys I didn’t recognize, my mother did though. They kept ordering shots, but it seemed as if they ordered too many, it was starting to pile up. I knew my mother hated a mess and for fear of getting hit over the back of the head again I finally decided I’ll clean it up.
I picked up the full shots and dumped them in the sink. Washed the glasses and with a big fucking grin I went over there and was like…..
“what you guys can’t handle the shots?”. One turned looked at me, then looked at the empty spot on the bar.
“Did you just take all those shots and dump them?”
Still brimming with my bravado.
“Do you have any idea what you just did?”
He turns to tell the other guys what I had just done. I quickly sense I just fucked something up. But I still have no clue what.
One of them, sensing that I had no idea what was going on, leans over and in a stern voice tells me what happened and who those shots are for…..Marc Lee.
I stood there like the idiot I was. Had I made a better choice and asked, I wouldn’t be the quiet target of rage that was passing along their faces. I did the only thing I could do, I quickly refilled shots, placed them on my tab and set them back on the bar. Apologizing, I keep my eyes on the ground and try to keep my hands from shaking. I knew what it meant to lose someone and I had just done the worst thing anyone could do. Fuck me.
As the night wore on the shots turned to a tray of shots. At closing they grabbed the tray and told me to follow them outside. I obliged…terrified I was going to get another ass chewing. The men circled around in the dim glow of the bar light in the parking lot in downtown Tumon. I also stood among them in the circle. A toast was given to the man I had never met, everyone took a shot glass, I was given one as well. We toasted and drank.
Like any foundation, it takes time. It has been over a decade of building on that night. I would be lying if I said that I suddenly got my shit together and was in a good place. It took a lot of hard earned lessons and even heavier failures to get to where I am now mentally and in my soul. Like any human put to the test, you must struggle, sweat, bleed and let the animal inside of you roar while you are busy carving out your path in life.
I once had a man stop me at work. He told me that he had been coming to Guam for the last five years for work. He wanted to thank me. He told me that it would be his last time coming to Guam and that five years ago, I saved his life. For the life of me I cannot remember what I said to him. But he hugged me and walked out. The moment came and went in a matter of seconds. It should serve as an example, that you never know where someone is at in life, you never know what demon they are fighting, you’ll never know how much you can impact a person’s life. By holding yourself to a higher standard and helping those around you, you can have an untold impact on others’ lives. Be aware! Strive to put positive vibes out there.
There is no magic to success. There are however examples, countless books you can read, endless examples of humans showcasing years of getting after it and what level it can bring them to.
I ask that wherever you are, you forgive yourself for your short comings, let go of whatever hate you have, and start taking some responsibility for your shit. You must put in the work. Success of any kind is just the by-product of your labour. What is your excuse? You don’t have time? You’re afraid? Not enough funds?
Really… As of right now, I am living with my roommate, driving their car and doing everything I can to push my goals forward. I packed a back pack and showed up to Virginia eight months ago. Scared out of my fucking mind and extremely unsure as to what I was doing. Why you ask? Because I was drowning in my former life, every fiber in my being screamed for me to get off my ass and go hungry into the night.
So here I am, eight months later, still broke, living with my roommate. I am the happiest I have ever been. Every day is a chance for me to take a step closer to my goals. Every day I seek to do the things I want to. I have become extremely rich in happiness. I have met amazing people that have contributed to my foundation. I have had opportunities I never thought I would. Perhaps a year from now I will have achieved my goals, perhaps I have failed, either way the struggle to me has become the most beautiful experience. Go hungry into life my friend.
That night, so many years ago, set a tone for the rest of my life. They gave the bar a plaque honouring Marc Lee, it still hangs in my mother’s bar. I find myself often sitting in front of it and re reading it. I never met the man. But I have met many like him.
The hungry souls that go hunting for the full extent of life. It’s my constant reminder when I don’t feel like pushing harder at the gym, or getting up early or whatever it is. It’s my don’t be afraid. It’s my go get it.
Marc, I can never thank you enough, and for those there that night, should our paths ever cross again, the first round is on me.
For completeness and to give context to the above, Marc Lee (attached to Seal Team 3 – Charlie Platoon – Task Unit Bruiser) was the first Navy SEAL to lose his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom when he was killed in a fierce firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi. Marc was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Valor and the Purple Heart. On March 20, 2013, the Marc A. Lee Training Center building was dedicated at the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado