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Rite of Passage – United States Marine Corps

(This Rite of Passage takes place at Parris Island, South Carolina during Marine Corps recruit training or boot camp as it is more commonly known) It is early in the morning and all of the young Marine Corps recruits have just been woken up and are standing at the Position of Attention awaiting orders from their drill instructors. For some reason the drill instructor has a sad and concerned look on his face. Although no one is speaking there seems to be a general feeling of dread in the air. The young recruits look to their left and right occasionally, searching for some clue as to what is going on.

The drill instructor takes a deep breath in and says in a very low voice, “The United States has been attacked. At 0800 hours we received word that terrorists have attacked the White House and they have confirmed that there are multiple fatalities. According to our intelligence, North Korea is responsible for the attacks. President Bush feels that the United States need to quickly respond to this threat, and has decided that the best course of action is to declare war on North Korea. The situation requires recruit training to be cut short dramatically. Instead of 12 weeks you will all become full-fledged Marines next week. After you earn the title Marine you will be assigned to a combat unit and deploy to North Korea. Whether or not you want to continue recruit training is up to you. If you decide you want to leave no one will hold it against you. You will return you issued gear and after some logistics you will be flown back home. All of those who wish to leave please take one step forward.”

At this point the recruits are completely blown away. Some are muttering to themselves while others talk amongst each other. Inevitably someone steps forward. After a while there are a handful of recruits who have taken a step forward. At this point the drill instructor asks if anyone else wants to leave. No hands go up. He then says, “Take a good look at the individuals who have stepped forward. These are people who do not deserve to earn the title Marine. These are guys you do not want watching your back on the battlefield. The United States was not attacked. There is no war with North Korea. I just wanted to see how many cowards were in this platoon. Remember them well and remember those that did not step forward. Those are the real Marines.”

This experience was a real eye opener for a lot of recruits. Some of the guys that stepped forward were guys that acted tough and appeared to be more hardcore than myself and other recruits. I personally did not step forward. Unlike some of the other recruits, I was actually warned in advance of such a scenario taking place during Recruit Training. Another reason I did not believe what was said was that at the time, the United States was already at war with Afghanistan. Later in the year they went to war with Iraq, which blew my theory about the impossibility of simultaneous wars to bits.

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