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October 24, 2009

A Few Good Men

A Marine drill instructor describes how Marine training transformed a gangbanger/drug dealer with an attempted murder charge and multiple misdemeanors and felonies into a United States Marine:

So I got this nasty little turd who ended up in my platoon that was Slim Shady to the tenth power. I mean, he was sneaking into the duty hut when we were out at PT, using the Senior Drill Instructor’s cell phone, eat[ing] cookies and whatever we had in our ‘frigerator... And we’d catch him and we’d kill him and put him on trial training.

The kid ended up on trial training two times and we almost dropped him, like, five times. We were just going to get rid of him.

But finally he starts coming around to our way of thinking, so to speak. And he graduated Recruit Training. A year and half after he graduated Recruit Training, he became Marine of the Year for the Marine Corps.

I believe the main problem in life is that we give up on people too quick. And we as Marines, when we want to give up on somebody… we don’t. We have no choice but to move forward. Pick them up off the ground and go forward.

And that’s what the Marine Corps gave this young man.

Be sure to watch through the end of this video as life deals this young Marine a cruel blow:

We live in a culture that makes heroes out of victims; that inflates mere inconveniences into life destroying obstacles. Our own President constantly tells us we shouldn't have to face hardship or the consequences of our own poor decisions: it's "unfair". The problem with that particular philosophy is that it erodes our faith in the amazing power of the human spirit to overcome the reverses life deals out with such depressing frequency. It's a little like telling a drowning man to hope someone throws him a life preserver because he "shouldn't have to" swim.

Marine training, on the other hand, is a no excuses endeavor. Marine recruits are urged to keep trying long past the point where they feel they have anything left to give - past tears, past exhaustion, past pain and hunger and discouragement. The result, paradoxically, is pride. In Marine training, recruits discover strengths they never suspected they possessed.

But more than that, they learn the value of perseverance. They learn not to give up - ever.

It's not as though Marines are already better men and women when they line up on those yellow footprints. Some of them, like Chris Figueroa, are broken when they get off the bus at Parris Island or San Diego: petty criminals, losers, or simply lost souls. But then something strange happens: they become better men and women through facing down their fears and fighting on until they have conquered fear, pain, and exhaustion.

They do this, not because someone makes excuses for them or lifts every burden from their backs, but precisely because they are held accountable. They become a part of something larger than themselves and in the process, confidence in their own ability soars.

The Marine Corps is the only service that doesn't try to convince potential recruits of everything the Corps has to offer them. Instead, they ask a simple question: do you have what it takes to be a Marine?

There are two ways of responding to adversity: you can look around for a handout or look within yourself for the will to overcome. I know which course our President has been advocating for this country.

I'll leave it to you to decide which strategy offers the best chance of success?

Posted by Cassandra at October 24, 2009 03:58 PM

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Inspiring! Agree with your comment on the two responses to adversity. Had just read this article on learning from mistakes that might interest: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=getting-it-wrong

Posted by: retriever at October 24, 2009 07:12 PM