The Proud Ones
By: Wayne Brown
They come from Small Town America and Big City USA. Every shape and conceivable size, color, and creed. They come unknowing for the most part of what they are about to embark upon. Some are here because they could not wait to do it. Others are here on the basis of tradition. For some, it’s the end of the line in a long job search. They have about as much in common as all other Americans have with one other, except for today. Today they will hold up their right hand and take the oath to defend their country against all enemies both foreign and domestic. Today, they will embark on a journey that will make all of them members of the United States Military. At some point after their service has began, they will graduate to proud members of the U S Military.
Some will be trembling a bit inside; somewhat fearful of what lies ahead, the unknown. Some will be aware of what is about to take place and will question whether they have what it takes to accomplish the task and complete it successfully. A few will be giddy with excitement wanting to get the training part over with so they can get to the field of battle and engage. These are the ones who they called ‘gung-ho’. Some of them will remain as such, many of them will bump into reality and settle into a more realistic mindset.
Basic training consists of a lot of things; important things that create a soldier out of a young man. But before all that can happen, a very important process must take place. It is called a lot of things in the various branches of the military but generally it is the breaking down of the civilian who has arrived for this training. He or she will be emotionally and psychologically broken down and disassembled. Beliefs and habits will be discarded. Loner mentalities will be removed. This will disappear along with the hair, the saunter in the walk, the grin on the face, and the attitude of not bowing down to anyone or anything. All these things will slowly go away in the training process and will be replaced by concepts such as respect, obedience, discipline, team effort, appreciation of one’s peers, military standards, and military technical knowledge.
Each individual will be put into situations they have never encountered before in life. They will learn how much they can depend on themselves and how much they must depend on others if the mission is to be accomplished and the least casualties are suffered. They will run until they cannot run anymore and then they will run some more. They will crawl in the mud, under razor-edged wire, amid explosives and chaos. They will be shot at and gassed. In each situation, they will learn to create they own self-discipline to the procedures and operations which are designed to keep them alive on the battlefield. They will learn the ability to control their fears even though they are well aware of them and continue to function when they are surrounded by chaos.
Some where during this training process each of them will confront their own fears and evaluate their personal abilities. They will become aware of their limits both mentally and physically. There will be times when each one considers quitting as the task becomes progressive more difficult. Some will quit, many will want to but will stay because they have found enough within themselves to know they can make it through. They want to make it through this process.
The weeks involved in turning a man into a soldier go by very slowly for the recruit. At times, it seems the clock is standing still. Then one day, each one of them begins to feel at home in this environment. They have difficulty remembering their past life because they are so focused on the one at hand. Time goes by incredibly slow and seems to multiply the agony of the training. The early morning get-ups, the long marches, the military decorum. All take up space in an orderly manner in each of their brains. All of them become a little bit more of a soldier as each minute of each day passes.
Finally, it reaches the end. Graduation day from basic training arrives. The soldiers rise early and go about the task of preparing for the grand event. They are glad it is here. They are glad to be a part of it. They are glad they have made it. Each will put on his or her uniform and dress as impeccably as they possibly can with each piece of brass polished and the shoes shined like a mirror. There be family members sitting in the stands to watch this proud event. They have come here from all points in America. Some have served their country already and are here because they are so proud their son or daughter will have that experience. Some are younger brothers and sisters who will look upon the marching and military ritual with wonderment and awe. It will be something they will never forget.
As the young soldiers march proudly past the reviewing stands each rendering a present arms salute to the commander and the country he represents. Each one marches proudly and each one celebrates mentally the accomplishment they have achieved. Today they are all soldiers in the United States Military. Today they are brothers in arms. Today they are one. And today, they are proud to serve in a way they could not imagine when they first recited the oath.
God Bless The Men and Women Who Proudly Serve In All Branches Of The United States Military. We are forever grateful for their dedication and their service. God Bless America.
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