This I Believe

barry - Rockledge, Florida
Entered on October 21, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

“Families are not always by blood”

On a small, remote island, I believe young men and women of all races and nationalities begin their transition to learn the true meaning behind family, born from a rite of passage.

The silent bus filled with recruits slowed to an eerie stop as it approached the small building in Beaufort, SC. Dark and slender figures with their Smokey bear covers eagerly awaited to receive us. The door opened and a uniformed man stepped on the bus. A shadow cast itself over the instructor’s eyes in the crescent shape of his cover. I could only see his mouth expressing contempt for everyone in his

presence. In a frog-like voice he screamed, “Get off my freaking bus! Do it now!” The confused recruits scrambled with a sense of urgency to disembark, stumbling into one another as if the bus caught fire. The drill instructors swarmed the recruits and corralled them onto worn yellow footprints stenciled in the asphalt where millions of marineshad stood before them. Terrified and alone, our bond was already beginning, unaware that all we had was each other, our new brothers

and sisters.

After three days of no sleep and little food, we became agitated with each other. Fights broke out in the large, cold bays. After the recruits failed to get along the irritated and displeased instructors unleashed their weapon of choice, incentive training, like the pit, a half-hour exhausting session of getting thrashed with calistinics in the flea-infested sand. After being pitted, we emerged out of the big sandbox looking like walking sugar cookies. The incentive training decreased over time as we complied with the instructors. Teamwork

and comradery replaced the lack of discipline and motivation. We helped each other, with knowledge, appearance, physical fitness, and

stress. The never ending days and constant terror from the instructors drew us closer as a family. We supported each other like close

brothers and sisters through the struggle.

Then, we started the crucible, a two-day and Fifty-four mile trekwith full gear. We struggled too far to let anyone give in to pain. While supporting each other, we worked our way to the end of the mentally and physically demanding trial. Our battered formation came

to a halt and faced to the right in perfect unison. The sun peaked over the foggy hills and the American National Anthem started to play. The recruits failed to hold back tears of joy as the senior drill instructor worked his way through the platoon. The senior placed an insignia in our hands and said, “welcome to our family marines”. Marines are not

related by blood, However, I feel fortunate to have such a large family. All men and women who stood on the yellow foot prints on a small

Island. The Marines who struggled together to earn their seat at our dinner table.