It seemed to be the longest bus ride on which I had ever been. Every
passenger had the same terrified look on their face. Each one of us seemed
to be thinking the same thing. Asking ourselves, "Do we really want to go
where this bus was taking us?" We all knew the destination , and thought we
were ready to go there. Many of us had visited this place, or places like
it in our imaginations when we had played as kids. Was it a dream come
true, or nightmare?
The welcoming committee was outside in the rain, waiting on
us. When the bus stopped and the door opened, we were willingly received as
guests. Then, yelling started. The loud, intimidating voices ordered us the
hell off the bus, and to stand on the yellow footprints that was painted on
the ground. We were at our home away from home: the Marine Recruit Depot,
Parris Island, South Carolina.
The welcoming committee were lean and mean Marine Corps Drill
Instructors, and they did not waste any time breaking us in, they started
with no introduction. The yelling was intense, they never spoke
to us in a normal toned voice, and if you even acted as though you were
thinking wrong, they tortured you by making you do bodyweight exercises that
you never knew existed in civilized society.
For the first few days we were herded around like cattle. The Drill
Instructors controlled our every movement. Nothing was done without
permission, not even using the restroom. They told us when to go to bed
and when to get up. The time to get up was approximately "zero
dark thirty" which is military jargon for "too damn early." We marched or
ran everywhere went; and did constant push-ups, while they yelled.
After a few weeks went by, the yelling became normal to us. The
marching, exercise, and military customs and courtesies became a part of our
daily routine. Waking up when it was still dark outside was awful, but it
did get easier. All of us felt stronger physically and mentally. We were
developing into Marines. We were also aware of the unchanging reminder of
the Drill Instructors that we were still maggots, slimy pieces of amphibian
excrement, and the most worthless life form in the universe.
Graduation day came upon us so fast. None of us could believe it was
real. Also, the Drill Instructors really didn't treat us any differently. We
still had to wake up ridiculously early. We still had to march or run
wherever we went that day; and yes, they were even still yelling at us. When
we marched for the last time on Parris Island onto the parade deck to
graduate, we could see our families. We could hear them cheering,
I never has experienced tears of joy before, but that day I had
them. At this very moment everything I learned at Basic Training ran through
my mind: the discipline, the ability to work in a team setting, it all
seemed to come together right there. After the graduation ceremony was over
we were dismissed. They said, "Marines dismissed." I could not believe it,
for the first time they spoke to us like human beings.
"Parris Island": when this Marine Corps training ground is merely
mentioned fear and awe is struck in the many recruits who dared to venture
there in the hope of becoming a Marine, For those that did survive, Parris
Island tore them down as a person and rebuilt them as a team over a thirteen
week training regiment considered by many to be the most difficult military
training in the world. We learned a lot, and knew when we took our oath
that Marines die, but the Marine Corps will live forever, so, as Marines we will
all live forever.