by Andy Weddington
Friday, 31 October 2016 - Halloween
Courage is a peculiar kind of fear. Charles Kennedy
This evening little ones will make footprints wandering door-to-door through neighborhoods - some in scary costumes some not.
And this Halloween tradition of Trick-or-Treat will happen in a small community on a tiny island in the South Carolina low country.
While elsewhere, in a bit larger North Carolina town, a mother is wondering, with a mix of worry and pride, where the time went.
Her son will not be Trick-or Treating.
Sometime after dark, most probably between 2300 and 0200, a bus will roll along a long tidal swamp causeway and come to a stop in front of a Receiving barracks - and that mother's son, after scrambling off the bus, will anchor a set of scary footprints; yellow, but not for the yellow.
That is, that young man found the courage to enlist in the U. S. Marine Corps. Need you know anything else about him? Or his family?
Tonight, he, taming fear, arrives aboard the recruit depot at Parris Island. So begins the test of his mettle.
Three years in a recruit training battalion at Parris Island (33 years ago), I know what comes off that bus.
Young men. And young women.
Eagerness. Fright. Determination. Uncertainty. Looks in the eyes reveal more emotions than there's time to list.
Most will prove their mettle and depart Marines.
But the intense physical and mental 13-weeks will filter out those who do not have what it takes.
Rather simple it is: The Marine Corps standard.
One and the same for all.
Conquer and emblem and title "Marine" is for life; for eternity.
On point, I have seen Mister Athlete and Mr. Popular in high school fail. And Mr. Nerd succeed.
Until stress is applied, it's impossible to know who can handle it.
Better to find out at a recruit depot who is of courage, or not, than under fire on a battlefield.
A couple of Marines who graduated from Parris Island (long after my days) come to mind to illustrate that last point. Corporal Jason Dunham, USMC - posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for battlefield heroism in Iraq, and Sergeant Dakota Meyer, USMC - awarded the Medal of Honor for battlefield heroism in Afghanistan.
These Marines are not so much older than the young man, and his mates, who report tonight. They'll learn about these two Marines, and others who distinguished themselves in battle.
I know not if he enlisted with an MOS guarantee. Regardless, first and foremost he will be a basic Marine and rifleman. And a changed man.
Though more than three decades, not so much has changed about Marine Corps recruit training, so some simple advice for success already offered.
But there's one last thought for that recruit (and his mom to encourage) ...
"Only leave the depot with emblem and title."
Footprints to Emblem
Starting Point to Objective
In closing ...
Recently, there's talk the Marine Corps is considering doing away with the slogan - The Few. The Proud. The Marines.
Why? Something or other about the need for a different message for recruiting.
But Marines are asking, "What in the world for?" and, "Why fiddle with something not broken?"
The explanation in sundry articles as nonsensical as the idea.
That said, General Neller (Commandant of the Marine Corps), if determined to change that slogan then a suggestion for you, for our Corps - keep it simple.
M A R I N E
The mother of that young man is my cousin. Her son will be the sixth Marine in the family - provided he leaves the depot with emblem and title.