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March 14th, 1984 - A look back twenty years later - The Rancho Commons — LiveJournal
Note to self: no whining, no slacking
March 14th, 1984 - A look back twenty years later
Exactly twenty years ago, to this very moment, I was enroute to Parris Island, South Carolina.

I was there from March 14th, 1984, until I graduated from Marine Corps Basic Training (Boot Camp) on June 12, 1984. That was, without a doubt, the hardest 3 months of my life. Looking back it was also the most important event in my life, and has come to shape me at least as significantly as any other event I can think of. I apply things I learned there every single day of my life, and I still learn things because I was there, that I otherwise wouldn't be prepared to learn.

On the day before graduation, my family and then girlfriend/now wife came to visit. As we marched out in formation and stopped right in front of the families, I remember hearing them trying to figure out which one I was. I had changed that much, and we all had the same clothes and haircuts. I've never been more proud of myself, or felt stronger than that day. I can't begin to tell you everything that happened to me there, or didn't happen, or what they did or didn't "do" to me.

But I will say that it was a stong enough experience that twenty years later, tonight, I still remember the bus ride, and the faces, the disorientation, the yellow footprints and the yelling! Jeez, the yelling. I remember the combination to the two locks I was issued, one for my rifle, and one for my footlocker; I still have them and use them (the locks, that is). I remember the faces of my Drill Instructers, their names and their voices; how their covers (hats, to you civilians) felt rapping me on the forehead. The fear, loathing, pain, fatigue, heartache. These are some of my clearest memories.

I will sleep much better tonight than I did back then. Especially that first night, when we were kept up all night to further disorient us. We couldn't have slept anyway, we were too jazzed. See, that's the main reason I will sleep better tonight. Because I know there are still decent young men out there who are willing to accept that challenge. I know that, despite what MTV and A&E would have me believe, there are moral men with integrity, strength, and enough love for their country that they would be willing to die for it, should they be asked. As long as I know this, I can still tell myself there is hope for us here in America, and I can sleep.
8 aspirations -{}- aspire with me
dancingwaves From: dancingwaves Date: March 14th, 2004 09:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
*huge hugs*
schmimi From: schmimi Date: March 14th, 2004 09:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I stumbled across you via thunderslug. You have an interesting perspective (albeit very different from mine) and a cool way of sharing it with the world; do you mind if I add you?
aspiring2live From: aspiring2live Date: March 15th, 2004 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Most certainly not! Add away. Yeah, my perspective is apparently "very different" from every other person with an LJ. Oh well, I remember when middle class white male hetero in a stable relationship was anything but different so I guess I should revel in my newfound individuality. Right? ;-) (And I didn't have to pierce anything or wear black clothes and make-up. Bonus!)

Oooo, so you have been in the presence of the hat[tm]? Wowwwwww.
schmimi From: schmimi Date: March 15th, 2004 09:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, done! I know what you mean... the demographics of LJ leave me feeling a little... well, old. :)

Yes, I have been in the presence of the hat[tm]. It's an awe-inspiring experience. ;)
mygyzmom From: mygyzmom Date: March 15th, 2004 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)

March 14, 1984...

Yep, that is another day that shall live in infamy! I thought my world had come to an end. But, we both survived it and I think we both grew stronger because of it. Your improvements were much more obvious, but I learned alot during that time too. My commitment to you was much stronger when you came home, and I knew that I would do whatever I had to do to be with you--if that was what you wanted. Twenty years later, I would do it all over again for you. Thanks for letting me share your life.
brknconfidents From: brknconfidents Date: March 15th, 2004 08:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I was only 8, but I have memories as well. I remember asking mom a short time after you left..."Mom, has it been 3 months yet?" 3 months was FOREVER.

I remember when we were coming to your graduation. It was the coolest thing because I got to stay up late since we were leaving at like midnight to drive down. I was sooooo excited, and everyone else in the car just wanted to sleep and wanted me to sleep too, but I couldn't...because 3 months was FOREVER.

I remember being absolutely dead the next day after we finally got to see you. That's all I came for anyway....hehehe....then I could sleep. I still have the program from your graduation somewhere. It had all the names listed and the words to "From The Halls of Montezuma" in it so we could all sing.

Ha! I had no clue when you left...someone shoulda told me that was pretty much it. You wouldn't be home much and you wouldn't be there to live ever again. I was just a kid, but someone shoulda told me because I didn't get it. All I knew was that 3 months was FOREVER.
aspiring2live From: aspiring2live Date: March 15th, 2004 10:36 am (UTC) (Link)
You break my heart. Posts like this remind me of how blind and insensitive I have been in my life, and I hope I can do better, though I don't know if I am or not. I didn't fully understand the implications of leaving either. I was never aware at the time that you had such deep feelings for/about me. In retrospect, I was pretty dense to miss that.

Once when I was about 8 or 9, I remember going to a friends house (I don't remember who it was now) and seeing a picture of a young man in military uniform on his bedroom wall. I asked him who it was, and without looking up at it, he said it was his brother. I asked more questions, and when I came to understand the situation, I was devastated for him. I was an only child at that point, but I couldn't imagine having a brother so much older that actually left home. I felt so bad for him. It is ironic that it never occurred to me until years later that I was that same picture on the wall for you.

I can only say now, that if I knew then what I know now, I would have been a very different person. I failed to show you how valuable you were to me. I took it for granted that you were there whenever I wanted to see you. I assumed that, like me, you were busy getting on with life, and I didn't call or write to you like I should have, or would have if I had truly understood.

I became my father.

God help me if I've done no better than that.
brknconfidents From: brknconfidents Date: March 15th, 2004 11:03 am (UTC) (Link)
No...I didn't see it that way. Later when I was able to understand, I realized that it was something you HAD to do. You had to start some kind of life for yourself. I don't remember the details about you going to college, but it seems like you had to quit because of money or something. If it was anything like it's been for me, you didn't get much guidance on what to do after that, and really no emphasis on how important school was in the first place. Look at me...I was kicked out of Christian school in the 10th grade because my tuition wasn't paid. I didn't start homeschool until the following April. I begged to go back to school in the meantime. I have no clue why certain decisions were made, but I do feel most of them were the wrong ones, and that I would probably be further along with life at this point if things had be differnt. Blame at this point is stupid. I'm learning....ya pick up the pieces and do the best you can with what you have left, and hope you don't lose any more time on wasted things.

This pain is gone...only a memory...YOU HAVE DONE BETTER. You have made it a priority, and a conscious effort. We both strive to be better than our parents...to deter the pain they caused us. I guess most of it was unforeseen by them...all of it is forgiveable, but not all forgettable. We will always sort the pieces and lug the wreckage. We will be better for it. YOU are better for it, and you're still on my pedestal.
8 aspirations -{}- aspire with me