High School, Third Place Winner – 2015 Essay Winner
Teacher: Mr. Montgomery

“The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps.” –Gen. Alexander A. Vandergrift | May 5, 1946 | Speaking to the Senate Naval Affairs Committee.

Starting to march is only the beginning, an orderly silence and a simultaneous, quiet crunch of dirt under feet to the sound of a steady cadence. It is only until the command double time is given that the power is shown as the voices of many rise into one crying the same cry and many running not as individuals but as a pack, truly the sound of the aptly named Devil Dogs.

Honor, Courage, and Commitment. The very same principles that were held by the Marines as they stormed the beaches of Guadalcanal on 7 August, 1942, the same principles that were held as the Marines bushwhacked their way through the treacherous jungles of the Vietnam jungle, fearing for their lives from the devious attacks of VietCong guerillas, and the same principles that the men and women who serve in the Marine Corp hold to this day. Yet, we as students could never hope to have the same experiences as the brave men and women who laid down their lives to achieve the freedom we enjoy today. However, myself and those around me always attempt to honor the men and women who serve our country and the principles they fought for through the carrying out of the Marine Corp principles in everyday life.

As a young man who loved visiting the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar for its Air Show and also to participate in Young Marines, it was always a beautiful scene to hear the whine of the jets as they screamed by at top speed and the sound of the platoons of Marines shouting their diddies while double-timing. But I always hoped that I could take some of their motivation and incorporate it into my everyday life. This became a reality when I entered high school, learning to cope with hatred and rampant bullying throughout the school.

Yet learning to change would have to start with myself, and I did just that through the creation of my own personal creed, “I will show honor through the respect that I give to my elders and the receiving, obeying, and passing on of the orders given to me by those more qualified than I am. I will show courage by never backing down from a challenge and by always striving to better myself for the sake of my peers. Finally, I will show commitment by always following my dreams and helping those who are in need as a school should never be sectioned and partitioned by personalities but rather function as a family that respects and understands each other’s weaknesses and strengths.”

Learning is one of the key steps to achieve the goals I set, and I am proud to say that I had the best to teach me. I was taught in Young Marines by three Marines from varying backgrounds, Cpl Arrar, LCpl Cortez, and Cpl Adams. These three great men coached me with care and consideration and watched my every single move. They were not afraid to correct me roughly but they always followed with an explanation of why I was wrong. I will never forget Corporal Adams timing of our change-outs and the constant cycle of changings until we could change from PT gear into woodlands in under 2 minutes as a platoon. I will never forget Lance Corporal Cortez’s cordial jokes as we ran along the red track huffing trying to finish a mile run without laughing. Finally, I will never forget Corporal Arrar’s intensive training.

Corporal Arrar always capitalized on the importance of the platoon and would constantly train us as a platoon in the volleyball court that we affectionately called the “sandpit” if we did not finish a run as one or if we did not always help our battle buddies with their every need. One of my favorite memories was of a time when we went to Camp Pendleton to experience a medic training camp and decided to try out an O-course (or Obstacle Course) as a unit. I will always remember the sight of Corporal Arrar in his cammies running after us yelling as we scrambled in fear to heave each member of our unit over the wooden wall. He was the man who taught us respect and that the older and more experienced were not to go first but rather to let the lower-ranks go before as a symbol of care and understanding of your subordinates better. It was saddening to see him leave as he was assigned to his new base in Hawaii, but I am still determined to carry out the very principles of Honor to your higher ranked, Courage to lead your peers through problems and obstacles as one, and Commitment to the goals of your peers.

Bio: 2015 Essay Contest High School, Third Place Winner, Forward, March. Double Time, March. by David Zhou, Teacher: Mr. Montgomery

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