Justin Timberlake attends Marine Corps Ball, pens eloquent letter in response


Well, Justin Timberlake kept his word and attended the Marine Corps Ball on Saturday evening with Corporal Kelsey DeSantis. I believe that Mila Kunis is up next weekend with her date, and she’ll undoubtedly make good on her promise as well. As Kaiser mentioned before, this provides a “bonanza of free, positive publicity” for both JT and Mila, and it truly appears as if JT could use a career boost of some sort because one can only ride on “SNL” goodwill for so long. Musically, he’s done nothing for years, and his last two movies have resulted in rather underwhelming box office results. While Friends With Benefits met with lukewarm reception, In Time was truly a disappointment with a mere $12 million opening weekend. Ouch.

Obviously, Justin Timberlake is no onscreen leading man and can’t really open a movie to save his life. His douchey reputation doesn’t help matters, especially when stories circulate that pin him as a diva who mouths off to restaurant staff. So I really appreciate that JT kept his date with Kelsey DeSantis, but I truly enjoy the fact that, as a combat instructor, she could wipe the floor with his ass if it came down to it. For his part, JT probably secretly dreaded having to attend this event; but he subsequently posted a letter that indicates that he was truly impressed by what he witnessed. In fact, he may have just enjoyed himself and experienced a much needed dose of humility:

To all my family, friends and fans -

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. I had this very feeling walking into this dinner. So, to say I was stoked to be there would be more than accurate.

As the evening got started, I met Kelsey and we made our way to the ballroom where the Marine Ball was going to be held. I stopped in an area designated as a kind of VIP for some of the officers, I think. I took some photos and shook hands with some of the men and women who take such great care of our freedom. It was nice to be there already.

Then, we moved to the ballroom where the dinner was set up… For a short while, I had the opportunity to sit with Kelsey, get to know her and get a tiny glimpse into what her life as a Marine was like. She talked about her training in mixed martial arts with a passion, a discipline, and a respect. It reminded me of how I hear my favorite athletes talk about their sport or, how I hear my favorites among my peers in music and film talk about their craft.

We sat in this huge ballroom and were the only ones there as, we had beaten the rest of the soldiers who were on their way in. So, we got a decent amount of time to chat before the ceremony started.

She seemed to me to be so humble and honest… Very cool. She also simultaneously seemed like she was nervous about the whole evening and if I was going to enjoy myself. “Are you ok?” she asked 2 or 3 times. “I hope you are having fun. I know you will once my crew of friends get here to the table.” I have to tell you, it’s not every day that I meet a 23 year old girl and she’s more worried about if I’m having fun or if I’m comfortable! It hit me all of a sudden that these were the type of people that look after us and our freedom… Humble, concerned for others before themselves… This was the type of person our Marine Corps was building. I was really blown away.

It seemed like all of a sudden I was surrounded by her great friends and fellow Marines as the closest ones to her made their way to our table. She again assured me that I was going to love all of her friends–that they were a “kick-ass” group of people.

She couldn’t have been more right. I laughed and laughed with all of them almost immediately and felt very close to them… They reminded me of my friends (the ones I like, at least). Cool, un-affected, and real. This was going to be a fun night.

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. There was a common theme that I began to notice as well… No matter what the situation. No matter how dire…

They were there FIRST.

There on the front lines.

No questions… Just reaction.

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.

I was truly moved.

The evening went on and we ate and took photos and drank and made jokes.

There were some speeches that prompted many “huahs” and applause. There was laughs. We even danced a little.

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 younger than me.

The evening wound down for me as, I had to catch a plane. But, I have to say that I had so much fun with Kelsey and her crew of friends. They were just really nice people… Classy Marines but, not without a great sense of humor. Real individuals but, not without a sense of community.

I said my goodbyes to them but, not before I got a chance to tell them how much the evening had meant to me. They made me feel so welcome to be there and I’ll never forget it.

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 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.

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.

Thank you Corporal Kelsey DeSantis. Thank you for inviting me. And, thank you for being my hero.

- Justin Timberlake

[From JustinTimberlake.com]

The boy really loves his ellipses to a point of overkill, but this letter seems completely genuine, right? Perhaps JT realized that it really was he who should feel honored to attend a Marine Corps Ball and not the other way around. He’s an entertainer (cry me a river), and these people put their lives on the line for our freedom as a matter of course. Somehow, I think he gets it now, and it looks like he felt a bit awkward and inadequate (as he should) in the below photo. This letter, however, wins him some points and shows that he was honestly engaged in the evening and didn’t just default to his usual douche mode. At least for one weekend.



Photos courtesy of JustinTimberlake.com

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25 Responses to “Justin Timberlake attends Marine Corps Ball, pens eloquent letter in response”

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  1. Feebee says:

    I’ll cut the guy a break. It was a nice letter and I hope he learns from and appreciates his experience as the letter suggests.

    But at 23, she’s a woman not a girl. A petty point to make perhaps but you never hear the phrase a 23 year boy.

  2. Ha ha says:

    I really have respect for him for going . Cut him some slack .

  3. LeeLoo says:

    Hopefully this event was a magical lifechanging moment for JT and we will see him be less of douche from now on.

  4. GatsbyGal says:

    I see her name written as Kelly amd Kelley in this article, bu JT calls her Kelsey. Which is it, CB?!

  5. Josh says:

    For someone who grew up as an entertainer he seems more grounded than his peers. Not perfect but it would be easy to imagine him being a complete mess. A male version of Lindsay or brittney.

  6. iseepinkelefants says:

    I can’t tell if he’s nervous or bored in that photo.

  7. Adrien says:

    Awww, JT! That was sweet. Don’t make me like you.

  8. Gigi says:

    This makes me dislike him less. Now if he’d just quit acting and go back to music full time I’d love him again.

  9. Beth says:

    Marines are not soldiers. They are Marines. Other than that, a nice letter.

  10. sally says:

    Thanks, GatsbyGal. He clearly refers to her as Kelsey in his letter, and these clowns couldn’t even be bothered to get her name right. Real nice.

  11. Zoe says:

    It’s a sad statement when people have to second-guess every good deed a celebrity does. They have money, they have fame, and yet *gasp* is it so hard to believe that they do philanthropic things on occasion? It’s not rare at all, they are people, human beings. They have good days and bad days and do the same things everyone else does -including charity. This isn’t the first time Justin has been involved in something charitable and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It says more about the doubters who can’t stand to hear good news about a celebrity or encourage positive behavior than to find some dark lining in everything. I’m happy that Justin did this, I’m glad he had a good time (and that the Marine Corps did) and that he wrote a thoughtful letter. Sorry, but attending an event like this isn’t going to do much for his career either way – it’s really not that big a deal as far as publicity goes. If he wants publicity, he can go on air anytime he wants. He doesn’t have to resort to trickery to get attention, please. Regardless of ticket sales, his career and opportunities are flying high. Hope the Ball was a blast!

  12. Alizor says:

    Oh please, give me a break
    I don’t buy his letter, this was all pure PR, he is an asshole
    Ladies don’t be so gullible!

  13. Shy says:

    I give him credit. He did kept his promise. I thought he will just forget about it. On the other hand I don’t think it’s hard for him. He attends all those charity and celebrity events every week. It’s his weekly routine.

    He doesn’t look like he was happy to be there. It’s more like: “O’k. I have no idea what is going on. But I promised. And I have to be here. When it will finish I will return to my comfort zone”.

  14. Lauren says:

    there is a Facebook fan page
    “Let’s Get Justin Timberlake to the Marine Corps Ball with Kelsey”

  15. BetsyD says:

    Beth is correct… Marines are not soldiers

  16. Mooshi says:

    Those fellow marines behind her (last pic) are so delicious to gaze upon.

    Oh my. What beautiful men!

  17. angela says:

    You can tell ALL of that just by one in-motion photo? I hate to defend Justin but that is absolutely ridiculous. You don’t know what or how someone’s feeling inside based on a random snapshot.

    Anyway, that was nice of him. He has an interesting way of writing. He is a bit repetitive, and some of the grammar and punctuation is strange. Maybe English wasn’t his best subject.

  18. hmm says:

    I’m 22.5 and I would still consider myself a girl :)
    I think early 20′s is the stage where you are too old to fit among the teens, but the “real adults” still look at you as a baby- especially if you are in college

  19. Dirty Martini says:

    I must admit: I have NEVER seen what is the attraction for this guy.

    But he did the right, standup thing here after how he setup that Mila whatever her name to accept that Marine’s invitation.

    He should have known (likely he did) that doing so would get him one in reponse.

    Good for him.Classy move.

  20. Emily says:

    @hmm, I know what you mean. I’m 23 and it feels completely alien to refer to myself as a woman.

  21. Boxy Lady says:

    He’s almost 31. Maybe to him, 23 is a girl. Or he’s making a point about her young age in relation to her great responsiblities and duties as a Marine. Or both.

  22. Ally says:

    The ever-more ridiculous CNN ran a chyron on Sunday mentioning the attendance of Justine Timberlake.

    I wondered whether he had a twin sister, then remembered I was watching the clown channel, and switched.

  23. Charmander says:

    Hate to nitpick (not really) but what do you mean when you say “they reminded me of my friends (the ones I like, at least)”? Doesn’t really say anything good about you that you have “friends” you don’t like. What are you, admittedly fake? A sycophant? An asshole? All of the above? I am not a fan.

  24. MMF says:

    I started reading this site to get a laugh. Here lately, all I get is annoyed. There are a lot of mean nasty people here. Have you ever heard? If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything?

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