Just south of the gorgeous coastal city of Beaufort, South Carolina, about 5 miles or so, is a glorious sound like no other in the world. It’s the Parris Island (“We make Marines”) graduation of young Marine cadets.
It is a melodic sound, but not one you would call particularly beautiful. It is, however, comforting when you realize it is a sound associated with freedom. It is the hypnotic drone of the Marine Corps drill instructor’s cadence.
Parris Island, the 8,095-acre home of the United States Marine Corps Recruit Depot, is in full chorus. Marching in complete unison, the Sergeant’s commands are bellowed in time and rhythm to the steps of the young recruits. The graduates, with chests puffed out, uniforms in perfect array and boots thumping the ground with earth-shaking might. It’s graduation day for these proud men and women.
These successful graduates have spent the 13 grueling, stressful weeks honing the skills of the fiercest warriors on the planet, The United States Marine. They possess the Marine core values and legacy, including but not limited to epitome personal character, selflessness, military virtue, discipline, common combat skills, and combat conditioning.
I look on with a mix of emotions, pride to be sure, watching some of Americas finest heroes stride with precise, perfect and practiced movements.
Awe at the pageantry of the warrior’s parade. Nostalgia for my glory days as a Marine recruit and excitement for these new Marines as they set out on their wondrous adventures.
Patti and I spent the morning honoring these soldiers in all their glory. I couldn’t help but admire the Devil Dogs (Teufel Hunden is German for “Devil Dogs,” the nickname German officers gave to the Marines in 1918 because of the ferocity with which they fought, and the name stuck) as they strutted to the sounds of the Marine Corps band. Chiseled bodies and sharp minds ready to stand up and fight for the rights and freedoms of all Americans.
Watching the supportive families as they cheered on their Marine and basked in the pride of accomplishment and American patriotism. It was a splendor to behold and one that I wholeheartedly suggest to anyone visiting the Beaufort area. An experience that will give everyone a real jolt to their proud American Heart.
The ceremony itself included 8 platoons of recruits – 6 groups of men, 2 groups of women. Among the rituals were the flag ceremony (the U.S. and the scarlet and gold Marine flag), and the United States Marine Band playing a series of patriots songs, ending of course with The Marine Hymn:
From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
In addition to the festivities associated with the Graduation is a museum that highlights the life of the numerous inhabitants of Parris Island and Port Royal through time. The museum also honors the role of the Marines from its inception, with numerous artifacts and displays to explore.
Another worthwhile stop is the Base Exchange where Marine memorabilia is ready for purchase. An assortment of goodies that will help you remember your visit to the home of The Few, The Proud, The U.S. Marine.
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