Another Personal Indulgence: The Crucible Edition


Globe2It is the last step, the last big test before graduation. Fifty-four hours of being stretched to the limit. Forty-five miles of marching. Two and one-half MREs. Seventy recruits that trained side by side for the last 12 weeks acting as one unit.

At the end they meet at a replica of the Marine Memorial from Arlington National Ceremony. Here, a Chaplain says a prayer, the Drill Instructors will shake each hand and then place in that hand the Globe and Anchor and address the recruit as “Marine” for the first time.

This past week, someone other than myself called my son “Marine.” This time it was for real. He’s made it through. And on Sunday afternoon he was granted some base Liberty and allowed access to a telephone. For five minutes we got to talk, to hear his voice. It was lower in register, more assured, not the voice of my baby boy but a glimpse of the man I’ll get to meet later this week.

Wednesday morning, puppy dog will go to the sitter, siblings will cram their stuff in the car, and along with Grandpa, Mom and Dad will begin the long journey south, through the mountains of West Virginia and into the Carolinas. On Thursday morning we’ll meet for the first time. I know I will recognize the eyes and the goofy grin but I’ll marvel at the changes the Corps has made to him in the last 13 weeks.

The question is, will he see the difference in me? Will he see that I will stand before him a much humbled individual? Will he see how proud I am that he has made more of himself at 18 than I accomplished in a lifetime?

Now, he is part of that brotherhood I will never truly know, those few, those happy few. While politicians squander, squabble, piddle and diddle, those few march on to their own drum. It beats out a constant rhythm: Honor. Courage. Commitment.

I have given my beloved nation a United States Marine. May the nation return to him and to his new brothers and sisters the same values that they are giving to her.

EJHill will not be Photoshopping this week. Mssrs. Long, Robinson and the Blue Yeti are on their own. They’ll manage fine without him.

There are 47 comments.

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  1. A Beleaguered Conservative Member
    A Beleaguered Conservative

    Congratulations and thanks to you and your son.

    • #1
  2. user_657161 Inactive

    Oorah and Semper Fi!

    Great piece but I would add to it that family members also serve, although you may not realize it yet, you are also part of the brotherhood. 

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  3. Mama Toad Member
    Mama Toad

    Amen! Blessings on your Marine, and special blessings for his parents. Please tell him how grateful we are for all our military and him particularly.

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  4. Inactive


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  5. Julia PA Member
    Julia PA

    A Beleaguered Conservative:

    Congratulations and thanks to you and your son.

     My sentiments exactly. Prayers for strength, safety and blessings.

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  6. Jackal Inactive


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  7. Pencilvania Inactive

    Thank you for your son’s commitment – and yours – SIR!!

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher

    Thank you for the piece, E.J. And thank the man your boy has become when you see him.

    • #8
  9. skipsul Inactive


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  10. user_86050 Inactive

    Justified pride, EJ. Congratulations.

    • #10
  11. EJHill Podcaster

    Thank you for your kind words and wishes. But good Lord, people, what time do y’all get up? (And yes, since I posted my piece at 2am et, I know the companion question that goes with that.)

    • #11
  12. GLDIII Reagan

    Congratulations, my youngest is in the application process for the Naval academy. He wants to be a Marine. Following your accounts of your son has encouraged him to apply.

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  13. user_657161 Inactive


    Thank you for your kind words and wishes. But good Lord, people, what time do y’all get up? (And yes, since I posted my piece at 2am et, I know the companion question that goes with that.)

     Usually at 0430 but I sometimes sleep-in until almost 0500 (AKA: zero dark thirty) on weekends. Your son should be pretty familiar with that routine by now, well except for the sleeping-in part. It might even become habit forming if he decides to become a lifer.

    Semper Gumby!

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  14. Mr. Dart Inactive
    Mr. Dart

    Clear blue skies and 90 degrees all the way on your drive through SC on Wednesday. 
    Safe travels from Fort Mill to Port Royal. (Be careful going around Columbia. The fans might be gathering early for Thursday evening’s festivities.)

    Enjoy your stay & a big thank you to the young man and his whole family for the service.

    • #14
  15. M1919A4 Member

    I wish fair winds and following seas for your family and your son. What a magnificent tradition and service has has become a member of.

    • #15
  16. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum

    Oorah! Semper Fi! Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus!, etc. Love, prayers, and thanks to all, EJ!

    • #16
  17. No Caesar Thatcher
    No Caesar

    Congratulations, and Thank You to you and your son.

    • #17
  18. Klaatu Inactive

    Congratulations to the new Marine and his rightfully proud father.
    Semper Fidelis!

    • #18
  19. Casey Inactive

    Indulge, baby. Indulge.

    • #19
  20. Copperfield Inactive

    As long as this can happen, there’s hope. Well done, sir.

    • #20
  21. Kelly B Member
    Kelly B

    I was hoping this was about your son – Congratulations! Made me a little bit weepy.

    • #21
  22. flownover Member

    Your pride is contagious. It fills me with hope in these dire times. And send my gratitude along. 
    Good job Dad !

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  23. BastiatJunior Member


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  24. Moderator


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  25. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl

    I’m so thrilled for you! Seeing your children succeed at their chosen endeavors is a very satisfying moment for a parent. Have an awesome trip. We got to attend Navy boot camp graduation a couple of years ago. My “baby” is a sonar tech on a submarine, proudly wearing his dolphins. Congratulations to you and your son!

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  26. Yutch Coolidge


    Every Marine travels with his family by his side each step of his service.

    Thank you all and your son for your service.
    Congratulations. Semper Fi

    • #26
  27. user_75648 Thatcher

    Words are empty at a time like this. Please know that a grateful nation congratulates your son and you.

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  28. user_140798 Thatcher

    As a member of the immediate family of a person serving in the uniformed services in wartime you are now entitled to wear a service flag. Yours (with the Marine coat of arms at the bottom) should look like this. Wear it with pride.

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  29. Instugator Thatcher

    Congrats EJ!

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  30. Grendel Member

    There’s a week between the Crucible and graduation. The new Marines get some time to stroll around the post and the recruits salute and call the “Sir”. Since recruits never go anywhere alone, whoever is marching the platoon around calls them to attention in formation so they can render honors to the new Marines.

    Was your son in the skip-week program, as mine was 5 years ago, that gets them through basic in time to get off to college?

    • #30

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