Veteran’s Day: From A Devil Dog’s Perspective
I had never been very athletic, at least willingly. I’d run when I had to in P.E., but aside from that it’d take Freddie or Jason to be chasing me in the dead of night for me to go faster than a constipated llama. I also didn’t have an affinity for authority. Teachers, parents, and any other superior in my life would try to restrain the ball of fire that I am and would fail miserably or I’d completely disregard and impulsively live life. So, when I told my parents that I was going to be joining the Marine Corps, they were floored.
Three months and one week would be spent in Parris Island, South Carolina doing nothing but working out, learning how to shoot an M16 A-4 Service Rifle from 500 yards away (a football field is only 120 yards long for reference), marching, and fighting techniques called Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Every day I’d wake up a 0400 (4 AM) and run around from “activity” to “activity” to the sound of three extremely pissed off and loud drill instructors until 2000 (8 PM). We were never alone, at least one of the fiercest, highly trained bad asses was watching us at any given moment this included using the bathroom and taking showers. Moving out of position of attention or parade rest would result in being Intensively Trained (I.T.). Talking amongst ourselves was prohibited. If we wanted to use the bathroom we’d have to request permission in a loud, warrior cry. Oh, and we weren’t allowed to say “I, me, or my.” Instead we were “these recruits, that recruit, and those recruits.”
Through the 13 weeks of hell, and four years of service, I realized what I was made of. Being stripped of everything, including my own name, food, comfortable clothes, comfort in general, and anything that held some semblance of security, made me come face to face with myself. I earned my Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. Not another living soul assisted me in attaining the title of Marine. I dug from deep within and pulled it together. All the blood, sweat, and tears translated into respect that I will have that is synonymous with the world’s greatest fighting force for the rest of my life. These lessons of perseverance and dedication have prepared me for the world and are accompanying me in my life as a civilian here at Hilbert College. It gave me the confidence to try new things, the security of being ok with myself (because when you’re not allowed to shave or shower for a week at a time you learn that beauty doesn’t mean anything in the end), and most importantly it revealed to me the simple pleasures in life that so many take for granted. I am a proud veteran and have learned so much. I want to impart my experiences and knowledge onto people just as my drill instructors did to me.
Not everyone’s experience is the same. Some may have had it worse and others better, but I want to thank every person who has served, is still serving, and will serve because at times it is a thankless job. Veterans of all branches, you have my utmost respect and undying gratitude. Semper Fi and God bless.