Graduation day, 20 January 2017, Kilo Company and Oscar Company. This is, IMHO, the greatest graduation ceremony I have ever witnessed. And I’ve seen it twice.
Every time I think about it, I get something in my eyes. Strange.
Graduation takes place on Peatross Parade Deck, one of the largest parade decks I’ve ever seen. Graduation begins with the Parris Island Marine Corps band entering. Then, the Parade Adjunct marks the right flank of the formation and the two graduating companies enter the deck, marching in unison, platoon flags waving in the breeze. It is an incredible sight.
I hope that this panorama of the parade deck, with 599 men and women that are the United States Marine Corps newest members, helps you see just how large the parade deck is.
It was during the Commanding Officers Remarks that something got in my eyes. He’s talking about honor, courage, and commitment. Then he says, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine,” and asks for all Marines in attendance to stand and be recognized. Up goes Number One Son. I’m working on getting “dust” out of my eyes.
I had to laugh to myself after thinking about this. Every other graduation ceremony you might attend wants to honor all veterans in attendance. Not here. They only want to honor Marines. Sorry, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Army veterans.
After the Remarks, the Marines pass in review, which is another spectacular sight.
Then, they retire the guidons, present awards to the high shooters and high scorers in combined personal fitness, the band plays the Marines’ Hymn, and then there is the Final Dismissal.
Now, another rush to greet the new Marines, take more photos, and meet some of friends he’s made during the 13 weeks of boot camp.
Number One Son with his cousin, his new brother.
After congratulating him, it was time to head back north. But first, a special stop. What Number One Son called “a tradition.”
To all, this looks like just another Wendy’s. To my family, this is the Wendy’s where we stopped with Number One Son, after his graduation and he had his first civilian meal in 13 weeks. It’s at Highway 17 and I-95 in Jasper, SC. To quote my blog post from 2010:
On the way home, we stopped at Wendy’s for lunch, with our Marine. What did he eat?
- A Triple Baconator, small fry, and a Mr. Pibb.
- Sweet and Spicy Asian Boneless Wings, small fry, and a lemonade.
- Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty
Quite an amazing sight.
This time, it was just a Double Baconator, medium fry, and a soda.
My mother now has all of her grandchildren in uniform: two Marines, a soldier, and a (auxiliary) policeman. I think that is simply amazing and I am extremely proud of them all. Although, as I said back in 2010, “proud” is a word that doesn’t seem to appropriately describe how I feel about them.
I cannot say that I will not return to MCRD Parris Island for a third visit. Of course, it will be with Number One Son in tow. And, hopefully, with Number Two Son. Our family now has a proud tradition of men in uniform after a generation without any.
By the way, graduation ceremonies at MCRD Parris Island are open to the public. If you ever find yourself in the area, please take the time to witness a graduation ceremony. Here are all of the dates for 2017. It will only take you a few hours of your time (depending on whether you also decide to see some of the sights on the base). As I keep telling you, it is truly the best graduation ceremony you will ever witness. Honest.