by Andy Weddington
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. Rudyard Kipling
I've been watching the Republican Convention. Listening. Monitoring social media. And, in contrast, mulling over last week.
I spent a few days in the South Carolina low country.
A rally with Marines and their families.
We, from across the country, returned to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island - our place of duty more than three decades ago.
F Company (2d Recruit Training Battalion) Marines - proper and honorary.
Drill Instructors - the Marines who made Marines. All retired.
Officers - the Marines who led and supervised the Marines making Marines. But for one, all retired.
And a Marine (a recruit in the day and his wife) - now a retired police officer. He told, emotionally, of a tough home life and of the Marine Corps saving his life.
That which binds us?
A simple, elegant emblem - the eagle, globe, and anchor.
But it is not the emblem in and of itself that binds rather what it represents - courage; self-sacrifice; personal hardship; perseverance; teamwork; leadership; followership; trust; mutual respect; accomplishing mission; and more that forges an ethos and camaraderie.
Early Saturday morning we witnessed two companies of recruits complete the final foot march of their Crucible - a 54-hour test of physical, mental, and moral courage under the strains of continuous movement and leadership challenges, foot marches under load, limited food, and sleep deprivation.
With completion, the Senior Drill Instructor presented each recruit their reward: An emblem and title Marine.
From bleachers, nearby and behind the formation, we discreetly observed the ceremony.
They now one of us.
That - generation, this is - matters not.
Marines are Marines.
For what binds centuries of Marines has not changed - emblem; commitment to one another; oath to Constitution; and a flag.
Such a simple formula. Chemistry.
What binds America?
For years I've pondered that question.
I have no definitive idea. And apparently nor does anyone else.
Today's divided America is for want of something simple - a definable common experience and the application and practice thereof for life.
How do we fix it?
Courage; self-sacrifice; personal hardship; perseverance; teamwork; leadership; followership; trust; mutual respect; accomplishing mission; and more that forges an ethos and camaraderie.
Mr. Kipling knew.
But not easy.
Ask a Marine!