The Orangeburg County Community of Character trait for November is courage, something about which U.S. Marines know.
The history of the Marine Corps is a story of courage, from battlefield to battlefield in war after war. That much is a given.
But courage and Marines are a bigger story. Many will say it takes courage to become a Marine, as the Corps’ “the few, the proud” tells prospective recruits. But the Marine Corps is about more than building fighting machines.
Read its message to parents:
“Our first commitment to Americans is that we make Marines. This means instilling an unbreakable moral code and a warrior spirit in every Marine so they can honor our mission and our country. The success of the Marine Corps depends on the character of every individual Marine.
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“Marines recruit America’s best: young men and women who have strong values, the determination to rise to any challenge, and a sense of service. Then we build on that foundation to create Marine character that serves our nation, and your son or daughter, for life.
“You will be able to see Marine character in your son or daughter immediately after Recruit Training or Officer Candidates School. He or she will have learned teamwork, responsibility, determination and discipline. They will be poised, respectful and proud of their accomplishments.
“After your Marine’s first billet or deployment, you will see his maturity, perspective and leadership continue to develop. Your Marine will know what it means to pledge himself to a greater purpose.
“These qualities will not only bring pride to your family now, but will enable your Marine to better lead his or her own family, community and work colleagues in the future. For the rest of your Marine’s life, he or she will be the man or woman you raised them to be: a self-sufficient, capable, determined American.”
Just as Orangeburg County saw the need to foster character in our people by beginning the Community of Character program, the Marine Corps in 1996 went pro-active in taking up where it saw society falling short.
The lack of understanding for basis values led the Corps to alter the basic training curriculum to focus intensely on values and ethics, which are part of Marine recruit training at Parris Island and at the recruit depot at San Diego.
During a Pentagon briefing, Marine Corps officials said the effort serves several purposes. One is to prepare Marines for conflicts; another is to “make the nation stronger.”
Among the changes the Marines added: an extra week of training to give drill instructors more one-on-one contact with recruits and a rigorous, 54-hour rite of passage called “The Crucible.”
To complete The Crucible, young recruits subsist on a few hours of sleep each night, race through several “speed marches” and navigate a confidence course that requires groups of trainees to solve problems collectively.
The goal is for young Marines to find the values – teamwork, selflessness, loyalty – that will make them be successful warriors and, later, productive citizens.
Stating again from The Marines: “Our first commitment to Americans is that we make Marines.”
This month, a Marine staff sergeant at Parris Island was charged in the tragic death of a recruit during “The Crucible.” The case should be fully adjudicated before conclusions are drawn about his actions and dangers of the training.
Marines have always been counted on to embody courage. Today’s training incorporates other traits of good character. No wonder a Marine is a Marine for life, and in most instances, a quality American that sets examples for others.