Change For The Better
By Anonymous, Newark, DE
Reuntied, Or So I ThoughtYou see, even though Josh was “Mr. Tough Guy” he had one soft spot, me his baby sister that he magically shared a birthday with even though we are six years apart. My brother and I are like two peas in a pod and we had never been away from each other for such a long period of time. For this reason and a never ending list of others it is safe to say that I was more then overjoyed when we were on our way to my brother’s boot camp graduation. I hadn’t spoken to him for months and we had spent our first birthday apart. I could not wait to tell him about all the wild fights that had been going on while he was away. But as soon as I laid eyes on my brother a flood washed over me.
He looked like he had been to hell and back. My big brother had been a skinny boy to start with but as I stared up at him I knew that this was too skinny. He had to be down to at least 120 pounds. His skin was a pale green color and looked flabby on his frail body. The bags under his eye were indescribably dark. I was afraid to hug him in fear that I might break him. What had they done with my brother?
If seeing my brother’s new appearance hadn’t made me nauseous enough, he then began to tell us all about his time on Paris Island. He started telling us about all the nights he went without food. The numerous amounts of nights his troop was left out in the field dirty and exhausted. They were all given barely enough to survive on even though they were being put through the most strenuous mental assessments and physical exercises they had ever endured. All the drill sergeants treated each recruit like a legitimate piece of s*** on the ground, breaking them down until there was almost nothing left of their former selves.
But as I watched Josh march along with the rest of his platoon calling out the cadence at the top of his lungs he looked like a whole new man, inside and out. He had a sense of pride about him that I had never seen before. Watching him hand and foot in the same exact step as so many other men, made it seem as if he found a place where he belonged. Through all those rigorous drills and intense training he had learned that the world is not all about him and life can get a lot worse.
Josh had told me that boot camp was the most challenging part of being a Marine and that it would only get easier from here. I tried to believe him, but I slowly found out it was as far from the truth as someone could get. We were now in for an even longer separation then the first. He was getting shipped out to Iraq. Every day we were on the edge of our seats waiting for a letter or a phone call if we were lucky enough. Not being able to know if he was out on the battlefield, in harms way, gun in hand or back at his base trying to get a few minutes of sleep. No matter what the answer was he was never really safe in either place making it that much harder to be away from him. When he finally made it back to the United Sates and to his base in California we were elated and could relax somewhat. That’s the unsettling thing about the military you never know what’s going to happen next. They use you like a playing piece in a game of monopoly and move you wherever they feel you are needed.