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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The big day

After 70 days of physical and mental tests, hundreds of young men and women will finally be called Marine today.

I like to think I'm above brainwashing, but I'll admit that this week has been a lesson in what the term Marine means. I'll never truly know, because I won't ever walk the Yellow Footprints, or conquer The Crucible, but the brotherhood of this group of men and women is so powerful and so inclusive that it seems as though we've also made it.

The men of the Cleveland recruiting station who have served as our escorts endured a tough road with us, and never wavered. They seemed prepared for whining and moaning about schedule changes, yet it never happened. They adjusted on their feet as snow that in Cleveland would be described as a dusting socked the southern states and kept us sitting in a west side hotel for hours on end.

Instead of shepherding us through airports, they gave us an inside look at their jobs and what the educators can do to help them shape a smart, active and highly skilled Marine Corps. They explained that in return for a few years of military service that these young men and women whose lives the educators now get to shape will be forever altered by a system that provides free educational opportunities and a lifetime of protection for their families.

Today, hundreds more join their ranks. If my reaction to yesterday's morning run by the new Marines is any indication, I'd better bring lots of tissues, because it's going to be a powerful ceremony.

Good luck, Marines. I wish you well and thank you for your dedication to making this country safe.


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