Stepping off the bus at Marine Corps recruit Depot San Diego California a teenager from Chicago had no idea that his life was truly about to change forever. He knew to expect physical exertion and perhaps some yelling now and then but what he encountered was beyond all he had anticipated. “I said pick it up recruit!” The Drill Instructor shouted after tearing the duffle from the fresh recruit and tossing it to the ground. “Begin!” Yelled Sgt. Woods as an entire squad bay of Marine wannabes paid with pushups for one recruit’s lack of putting his weapon together in a timely fashion. Ears peeling from the scorching July sun (who really needs sunscreen anyway), the marching was really coming along now. The trip to be fitted for the uniform he had dreamed about as a child – Marine Dress Blues, was a moment of pride in country never to be stripped away. The time with brothers he had never grown up with but would now grow to love and respect. It was a journey; it was a task fulfilling a dream to stand among the few, the proud, the Marines.
This scenario happened to me in 1991 and has caused me to reflect often on the sacrifice that each man or woman makes when taking the oath to serve and protect the United States and her citizens. While I served in 8 years of relative peace time, thousands have not. While we owe them our lives, they have given theirs. Remember them. Honor them. Thank them when you see a Veteran today.