letter to the editor: My brother the Marine
December 4, 2006
Dear Ms. Kemp,
Let me first begin by expressing
my great appreciation for the change that has seemed
to bring you and your family closer together. I too
share in keeping my family close to my heart. They are
irreplaceable, and offer a comfort that can only be
offered by those of related blood. Know that I am an
avid supporter of acquiring this recognition through
whatever means necessary, even if it means through a
group as malicious as the Marines.
Formalities aside, let us jump into
the issue at hand. The Marines are a crack force used
primarily by this government to storm or raid shorelines.
They will overwhelm the enemy, kill the enemy and secure
the objective. Kill the enemy, and survive, so that
they can do it again tomorrow; that is what they do.
In 13 weeks of training, recruits spend their time immersed
in a program of desensitization that trains their minds
to forget basic human principles -- the stuff that enables
us to relate to one another with civility and courtesy.
There is little or no time invested in the proper chivalrous
techniques you suggest in your column.
Now, do not be quick to jump the
gun and tell others that he is a hard-core killer after
completing the rigors of Basic Combat Training. I say
that because it is the obvious misconception the public
as well as your column suggests.
"He has now completed the longest
and most difficult military training in the world: 13
weeks of boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot
in San Diego."
Allow me to reiterate, these were
the basics. There were no perilous mountains to be crossed,
no impossible physical boundaries to be surmounted by
ordinary mortals. No. In all cases, in all of the military,
no non-commissioned officer, or drill instructor, is
allowed to push a soldier beyond a certain extent. I
could go days about how the military has made it impossible
for soldiers to be unsafe in a wide variance of temperatures
and conditions; I just don't have the time or temperament
to school you on these DOD regulations.
However, it is important to say that
the DOD has conformed its recruiting and training standards
to today's youth. If they did not do this, no one would
get in; this is how we keep combat readiness up when
reporting to higher.
I can assure you that after a violent
bout of retching during a PT run, there would be no
"picking up the pace" as you referred to it. In fact,
any soldier who vomits is a casualty, and is then being
prepped for medical evacuation. And when rucking, a
soldier would not exceed 70 percent of his or her total
body weight. Again, this is a worst case scenario. The
widely accepted rucking weight to be carried is 30 to
35 pounds. So, clearly your brother must have been a
sizable Ironman contestant before his military adventures
to be carrying 60 to 80 pounds per rucking event.
At boot camp, there is no rub with
death; he or she is safe at all times. For this reason,
I firmly believe that the soldier does not learn anything
intellectually or emotionally there that he did not
show up with.
"But he has now gained a deeper
perspective on life."
If this is true, it is not because
the Marines have created an atmosphere conducive to
intellectual advancement amid the yelling of mindless
cadences and drills. No. If this is true, it has been
cultivated because your brother has been held against
his will longer than he wanted. He missed you dearly,
and he loves you more than he was able to know. Trust
me, ideas are formulated at night, when you imagine
how great life used to be.
The only part of your column I found
believable was your mention of a growing patience. Well
done, this was a home run! And if you think he is patient
now, wait until he has his life threatened for the first
time. Whether it be from the laws of physics, a close
mistake, or the fast-traveling projectile from an unfriendly
rifle. Only then can life truly be evaluated or appreciated
in a different light. Everything beyond the safety of
family is superficial.
I have not written to offend you
or anyone else. My intent is not to stir anxieties,
for your brother is on a path that is a great service
to his country, should he use his training to help others
later, after his enlistment. I truly hope he does.
I write merely to help you see that
your column was highly misleading. This should instruct
you to look further at the military, to see it for what
it is, and what it has become. If you go where I have
gone, and others have, I am convinced that you will
find an institution that has, to put it brazenly, outlived
Click here to read the story this
responds to: My brother's
no longer a kid - he's a Marine.