Justin Timberlake said in July that he would gladly attend the Marine Corps Ball with Corporal Kelsey de Santis if his schedule allowed it, and the 30-year-old actor/singer held true to his word.
On Saturday, the "In Time" star attended the Basic School Instructor Battalion 236th Marine Corps Birthday Ball with Cpl. de Santis in Richmond, Virginia, and he says in a post on his website that it ended up being one of the "most moving" evenings he's ever had.
"I've always been very vocal about my support of our armed forces. I've always felt like they offer us the opportunity to live our lives freely without the fear that so many other nations have to endure...And they do it without asking anything in return," Timberlake writes, adding that he was "stoked" to be in attendance.
The boy band singer-turned-Hollywood-A-lister went on to describe the evening, which began with a few photo ops with other Marines, a little dancing and dinner, as well as a video tribute to what Marines have witnessed on the front lines that Timberlake says almost brought him to tears.
"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[s] that we who don't serve will NEVER understand," he writes. "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... but by having such life-changing experiences... and to not ever waver in their love and respect for our homeland."
Timberlake says he had the opportunity to get to know Cpl. de Santis and her "kick-ass" group of friends, and walked away in awe of their humility and authenticity.
"I felt so proud to be there. I felt like I was getting a chance to be among my heroes. It's funny too, because a lot of them are SO [much] younger than me," he goes on. "I have to say I had so much fun with Kelsey and her crew of friends...Classy Marines but, not without a great sense of humor. Real individuals, but not without a sense of community."
Timberlake closes with a request for his readers, regardless of their views on war, to send notions of gratitude to the armed forces however possible, be it with a letter, an email or picking up the tab on a round at the bar.
"To all of you that serve every day for us... Ensuring our freedom, I say: My deepest gratitude to you. I've met so many of my heroes, from Michael Jordan to Michael Jackson. And nothing makes me feel more honor and pride than when I get to meet one of you. Last night changed my life and I will never forget it," Timberlake says. "Thank you Corporal Kelsey de Santis. Thank you for inviting me. And thank you for being my hero."