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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.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cold, but warm moments abound

The big news is I only cried once today.

Oddly, it wasn't because it was about 16 degrees this morning when we started out at the physical training field watching recruits going through drills.

No, it was when new Marines, who yesterday finished a hell known as The Crucible, conducted a morning run as their parents looked on. They ran throughout Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, chanting and waving the flag of their platoon.

Their parents, on hand for tomorrow's basic training graduation ceremony, were seeing their children for the first time since they said goodbye 12 weeks ago.

The transformation has been described as staggering, and from the activities we took in today, it's easy to see why they notice their loved ones are a different person once they are finally called Marine at graduation.

Several highlights of the day included a special visit to see what's called "The Yellow Footprints." The Marine Media Affairs office arranged the look-see because much of the Ohio contingent of teachers was delayed a day by weather and missed this first stop in the recruit's processing upon arrival at Parris Island.

Later in the day, the group was treated to a demonstration of the Confidence Course, which is a series of physical activities meant to help the recruits overcome fears of heights, body strength and trust of their fellow recruits. The instructors on hand moved through the stages of the course as though they were Spider Man, drawing gasps from the crowd as they showed shocking upper-body strength.

The Confidence Course provided the only block of media access thus far, as privacy over training regimens is key to the Marines. Photos were allowed, but not video.

Later tonight will be a dinner with our Marine escorts, before tomorrow's special moment in which we get to see the new Marines graduate and receive their Eagle, Globe and Anchor, which is the Marine symbol.


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