At this point your recruits have become Marines and those long 13 weeks have finally passed. It’s without a doubt they receded back to when they were babies and did nothing but eat, sleep and poop the entire time they were home on leave. But can you blame them? It was much deserved after what they had to endure to earn that Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
There is no better feeling in the world than when that EGA is placed into the palm of your hand. It’s the first moment you face your drill instructors as “equals,” as Marines. It’s the first time they’ll ever talk to you like you’re not an imbecile. And talk about seeing a bunch of grown men cry! But I guess, given the circumstances, it was acceptable. The thing that made their particular EGA ceremony unique was that it was actually held on the Marine Corps’ birthday. There’s no better date to earn the title Marine. And to make it even more glorious a day, several original Montford Point Marines were there to witness.
The second best feeling in the world, or at least at that moment in time, is being able to shower for the first time in days and make your way into the mess hall for the Warriors Breakfast. No more monitoring what you eating, whether you’re normally a double rats or diet recruit, but just eating, eating and eating everything in sight. They grab mountains of pancakes, piles of bacon, loaves of bread and bowls overflowing with ice cream. If you imagine a pack of hyenas preying on a single antelope, that’s what these boys looked like trying to inhale their food and get up there for seconds before it all was gone. Most of them eat so much their stomach begins to hurt but they still keep eating. Disgusting as it sounds, several probably take trips to the head just so they can finish their plates!
Their final week of recruit training is called Marine Week, for obvious reasons. They spend countless hours preparing for the Battalion Commanders Inspection and graduation. It’s not unusual for the drill instructors to go back to treating them like Week 1 recruits as punishment because of their big heads though. They think that because they’re Marines now they can act all crazy, but in order for everything to go smoothly for graduation, that discipline they learned throughout recruit training is still necessary.
This is also the week they get seen by medical for any injuries they may have gotten while on the crucible. The main difference now is they’re not worried about being kicked back in recruit training or held from graduation because they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. They know they’ve earned the title and within a matter of days they’ll be able to see their family again and walk across that parade deck for the last time.
It was probably a very proud day for every parent out there to see that ill-mannered, lazy child of theirs ultimately reborn. I can guarantee they didn’t act the same way as before they shipped for training.
On a more personal note, I didn’t have the best approach in telling my dad when I joined the Corps. I was going to college with a full-ride scholarship at the time. One day I walked into his office and placed one of those “Proud Parent of a United States Marine” magnets on his desk. I’m a bad child, I know. Needless to say, whatever was on his desk at the time wasn’t there for long. He was furious! But he knew I was hard-headed and once I made up my mind there was no changing it. I shipped a few months later, and much to my surprise (he hates to travel), he actually showed up to my graduation. It meant the world to me, but I still sort of felt he was just there because my mother was there and he didn’t want to look like the bad parent (they’re divorced). However, when I went home on leave, EVERY time we ran into someone, he introduced me by saying, “This is my daughter, Kristin. She’s a Marine.” I knew from that moment on that he really was proud of me for what I did.
13 weeks is only 13 weeks. It may have seemed like forever, but there may be times where you’ll go months or even years without seeing your Marine. Just remember how proud you are of them and how important their service really is. It’s because of them that you’re able to sleep under that blanket of freedom at night. Be proud of your United States Marine.