Whenever I see a picture of a U.S. marine, my mind shifts to 40 years ago. I know the face. It's mine.

It dates back to 1982, when a 26-year-old three-and-a-half-year-old college student crawled with her fingernails and pushed herself into a boot camp at the perforated end of the temporary firm.

I heard DI's roar, juicy voice through my ears like a school of piranhas.

I know of bedtime rituals, with each employer lying on his bed, concentrating, looking up, and reciting or singing the Marine Corps hymn together.

I know of all the subtleties, humiliations, hardships, pains, fatigue, merciless pressures to perform well, the annoying discomfort and the constant struggle with self-doubt that a Marine goes to create. I know these things because I have lived them.

I also know the feeling of small personal triumph of achievement, the joy of not being single by a DI.

Someone advised me before the boot camp to try to keep the DI from knowing your name as much as possible. They taught me in the first 15 minutes.

I also know the increasing maturity and the pleasurable itching of energy and the feeling that I can do something I never thought possible before

climbing a 40-foot high wooden tower and rolling over the top log without any safety shoes. I know these things because I have lived them.

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