To the Voyageur in This Tempest
Who are you?
You were a kid. Maybe you loved school and excelled in all your classes and aspired to be a scholar. Maybe you hated school and excelled in other hobbies that occupied your time. You might have been a physical stud, an athlete. You might have been lost and looking for directions. Either way, you wound up in a recruiting office with a Marine in dress blues, signing a contract for the Marine Corps Reserves.
Maybe you signed because you wanted more out of your life. Maybe it was because you wanted to finish schooling. Maybe you had waited a few years and already had a job, a family, a life, and you wouldn’t have felt complete without accomplishing that youthful dream of becoming a Marine. Maybe it was for just that, the title “Marine,” and the uniform that comes with. Maybe you felt this what you were always meant to do.
Regardless of why, you found yourself at Marine Corps Recruit Training. For thirteen weeks you suffered with a platoon of strangers who would grow to call your brothers and sisters. You pushed yourself every day, pouring blood and sweat on the floor. You honed your body and your mind until you completed the “only” rite-of-passage of becoming a Marine, The Crucible. But, as you are aware now, there is a lot more to getting the title than playing in the woods for three days. Then you stood on that parade deck and all the reasons you joined leading up to this point dissolved like snow in the subtle winter sun. All that remained was an image of the Marine you would aspire to be.
So you went on to complete the next stages. You worked side-by-side with active duty Marines at MCT and your MOS schoolhouse, or maybe you went infantry and struggled through ITB with your fellow grunts. Either way, you were all the same, you were all Marines. Or, at least, that’s what they told you.
You said goodbye to your active brothers and sisters and checked in to your reserve station. Uncertainty clouded your mind but a flame of motivation shined through the fog. Finally, your time to become “a real Marine” was coming. Or, at least, that’s what they told you.
That’s how you got here, it is how you found my letter. As you drilled, that flame of motivation grew colder. As the reality of the reserves approached closer, the draw of what once excited morphed into toxic mundaneness, until the reality you currently are living stood like a creeper in the night, inches from your back, breathing down the hairs of your neck. No one was calling on you for action. No one was standing with you through friction. The ones you thought you could call on, the ones you endured all your training with, tried stripping you of your title. You had no brothers or sisters.
The darkness of this reality embraced you like a smallpox-laced blanket in an arctic snowstorm, your fate was inevitable. The reality is that you only have two options: accept the way things are and the way things will be for many more decades to come and let the comforting poison snuff your flame, or you try and make a stand and push through the frigid storm. If you are reading this, you had to have made a stand. Maybe the storm overcame you, battered you down until you could no longer stand. Maybe you stood up again, and maybe you fell again, nonetheless you refused to accept the inviting warmth of the blanket for bitter, cold solitude. Some, such as myself, escaped the storm. Some of us kept walking and fortune favored us as we happened to stumble upon the eye of the tempest and walked in clarity to sanctuary. Others were not so fortunate and just continued to walk until the end of their flame. Those are the people I’ve left this note for.
So who are you?
Maybe you faltered right before this note and decided to wrap the blanket around you as you read. Maybe you just let the snow pile around you as you lay in your own pity. Maybe you are still standing but weakened by the winds and snow. Despite what they say, you are a Marine. You live by honor, for glory, and that is the life you chose. This is a journey of hardship for the sake of hardship. You already have the title of Marine and nothing can strip it away from you, all that you can control is what you do with that title. So, do you lay there in your suicide blanket, or your pity pit? Do you give up on your trek and collapse to the ground, taking it easy until your flame burns out, or do you go out like your ancestors in the Chosin Reservoir, standing and fighting?
No man can shift the will of the tempest, but you can put honor in your title of Marine by standing and fighting until the very last second of your time is expired.
Here you are.
You bare the title, and the choice is yours.
Who are you?