This Week's Story

Tenacity drove Marine recruits and the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Semper Fi, part two

“Mom, I want to go into the Marine Corps.”

I wasn’t prepared for my son’s words and asked, “Why are you choosing the Marines?”

“I want the challenge.”

The words sounded like a slogan, but coming from him I knew they meant more than catchy words.  I accepted his decision and he went into the Marine Corps. Several weeks later I received a letter from him asking, “Would you come for my graduation from boot camp?”

I wondered, “Why does he want me to travel 1400 miles to watch him graduate from a thirteen week training camp?  High school graduation occurs after thirteen years of school.  Did Marine boot camp graduation have special significance?  I knew that the training camp was the longest and reputed to be the most difficult of any boot camp in the main branches of the U.S military.”

When I talked to parents of Marines, they all had the same message for me, “Go! The graduation represents an accomplishment

that makes every Marine proud.  Celebrate with him!”  Soon my two young daughters and I boarded a train for a 36 hour trip to San Diego, California.

The skies were blue, the breezes cool, and the smell of the nearby ocean good as families gathered for the ceremonies.  In an auditorium, recruits were proclaimed to be Marines for the first time.  When they marched later on the parade ground, I was awed as their movements flowed in unison. When they were dismissed, sweethearts hugged; babies were kissed; families united. To my surprise I saw several Marines go to their former drill instructors. With respect they shook the hands of men who had blasted them with streams of commands, who some would say had broken them down and built them up.

I asked my son, “Even though the drill instructors were tough, they were fair, right?”

He grinned at me, “No.”

I was curious. I learned that unfairness was deliberate training for enduring and pushing ahead when demands seemed impossible and grossly unfair.  Also planned was lack of sleep, shaved heads, pain in physical challenges, rushed eating, hours of memorizing, working as a team, insults, and loneliness. Few recruits were prepared for being intentionally disoriented and forced to act differently from how they did as civilians.

I certainly did not feel the recruits’ fatigue, confusion, and achievement.  So how could I connect to the Marine experience and values of courage, faithfulness, and preparedness for battle?

I could talk to Marines, tour boot camp facilities, watch military videos about boot camp and TV shows like JAG and NCIS, and read books, letters, and articles.

I have thought, “How can we connect to the ordeal and vision of the signers of the Declaration of Independence?”  I remember my curiosity in understanding the challenges of Marine boot camp. As the signers of the Declaration met together, they were not young military recruits.  Several were experienced in governmental negotiations, but all were in new territory for beginning a new nation. Their boot camp had no drill instructors; but needed, as many prayed, God’s guidance. They worked fourteen months, through hundreds of hours of intense argument, writing, and negotiations. Finally July 4, 1776 signatures were placed upon the Declaration. The Thirteen Colonies, formerly property of Britain, became the independent United States of America. The same day British General Howe landed in New York with more enemy soldiers from Britain.  The war for freedom continued.

This is Barbara Steiner.  Now we have the challenge of maintaining freedom.  Please check out thisweeksstory.com.

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