Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Climb Begins

Saturdays are busy on the Sam Merrill Trail, but yesterday was the first time I ever saw a troop of U.S. Marine Corps recruits take to the path. The sergeant (front row, center) was amenable when I asked if I could take a photo, but now that I look at it I'm not sure all the recruits wanted their picture taken. However, they were ordered into formation and they posed with their mascot, Banzai. This group is from the Pasadena Substation.

They're at the beginning of a learning process and it's not going to be easy. Already things were tough on the trail. One recruit had trouble keeping up; it was hot, the recruit wasn't in shape and the sergeant had to yell. It was going to be a long hike.

John and I did a short hike, part way up. On the way down we passed a brief altercation between the sergeant and a civilian hiker who thought the sergeant was being too harsh.

Archetypally, it was an argument between protector and protected.

That sparked a discussion between me and John about whether or not the Marines should have been training in public view on the Sam Merrill trail. It's clear we need a military, as unfortunate and medieval as that may be. And the training can be tough, it can get ugly. And although we well-protected, well-to-do, insulated non-military types benefit from it we don't want to be exposed to it, do we?

If you read my blog you know I'm one of those lefties who despise war, but I can tell the difference between the fight and the fighter. The young people I saw on the trail yesterday may end up as supply officers, soldiers, engineers, recruiters... Regardless, they volunteered to serve their country, our country. I don't know what sent them, whether they're escaping something or seeking something. I only know I'm grateful and I hope they find what they need. That recruit who struggled up the hill was struggling with more—with self and with Self. And there are bigger battles to come.

I wish them all safety and success.


USelaine said...

It looks like half of them, including their mascot, see something off to the right. "Ma'am, velociraptor at nine o'clock, ma'am."

Petrea said...

Yeah, there was another guy, a retired sergeant (I think he was a sergeant) who seemed to rank above the sergeant in the picture. He didn't want to be photographed. He carried a lot of authority.

Dina said...

Yeah, it's a hard thing. I'm glad you wrote this.
I think the heat and exertion together are bad for some people. We had a temper flare-up at the dig today among two men.

Lynette said...

Super post.

Coltrane_lives said...

A few years ago (ahem), when I was a recruit at Cape May, NJ (US Coast Guard), we would take long morning runs through town, but that was usually before many people were up. And yes, we got our asses chewed a lot! Compared to your photo, Cape May now seems like a jaunt through the park.

Miss Havisham said...

I want to grab each one by the shoulders and say into their faces,
Run! Run away! Run like hell!

Keith said...

Hikes can be great for conditioning but they're much more fun when you're not getting yelled at.

freefalling said...

I wonder what their faces will look like in a couple of years time, after they have seen what they will see.

Christie said...

I'm not fond of war either, but I recognize that it is, at times, necessary. Without it, there would be no United States. Because of these brave men and women, we have the freedom to live in peace and have the opinions that we want to have and freely voice them! God bless them, every one!

Ms M said...

Very interesting photo and story. LOL, US_Elaine, velociraptors!

Like you and others, I wish war could be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, it isn't, so we need our military forces. I wish them well.

Petrea said...

That reminds me, Dina, I need to check and see if you've posted anything new on the dig. I hope tempers have cooled.

Thanks, Lynette. Your photo for today is particularly gorgeous.

A friend of mine in his fifties is still serving in the Coast Guard, Coltrane. Never too late!

Me too, Miss Havisham, but we'd stifle the impulse to tell them what to do, wouldn't we? Otherwise we couldn't call ourselves liberals.

Keith, I agree. I guess these troops weren't hiking for fun.

Freefalling, that thought is enough to start a novel with.

Here here, Christie and MS M. I wish it weren't true, but so it is.

Bernie K. said...

These are dark days. They began about 6 million years ago, when we split from the apes. There's no light at the end of the tunnel (there are, to be fair, sparks along the way). Thanks, then, to our warriors, for protecting us from ourselves.

For every My Lai, a Meatgrinder Hill
For every Abu Ghraib, a Dachau.
For every Bush, a Lincoln.

USelaine said...

Beautiful, Bernie.

Miss Havisham said...

Respectfully, I have ceased to call myself a Liberal. I don't call myself anything.

I think it is a mistaken belief system that equates past successes in attaining peace and freedom with a necessary inclusion of war.

I think we simply didn't know, at the time, how else to achieve these goals, or we had other goals in mind-like the domination over a perceived inferior culture.

I don't think we have quite yet split from the apes. We are still a bit hairy or so it seems to me, even at the present time.

Miss Havisham said...

My apologies to the ape world for any of them I may have offended in my previous remarks.

Bernie K. said...

ook ook ack ack eeeeeeee

Laurie said...

Thoughtful, beautiful post Petrea. I always feel so pensive when I see members our military. A dear friend of mine was killed in the Beirut bombing of the Marine barracks in the 80s. My father was a nose gunner who flew bombing missions over Japan during WW2 and reconnaissance over Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was dropped. He was also stationed in Tokyo during the occupation. He never got over his part in that war and had night terrors until he died decades later. Then, ironically, I married a man who is half Japanese. And he served in the navy during the first Gulf war.

Liberal humanist mom here. I love our service men and women. I just deeply wish we had no need for them.

life observer said...

In reality life, unfortunately to say the least, some people in this world are a little crazy or evil.
Some of these people only understand their own language - the language of violence. And only by speaking their language can you make these "people" listen & stop their wicked ways.
These recruits, on the other hand, are an example of those who are willing to make the sacrifice for lesser ones such as myself, who in their hearts want to do & be good.
We love you guys/gals. Thank You!

Ted Thompson said...

Do we want to be exposed to it? Probably not, but I am brought to think about the Samurai. To them the gun was an awful thing, it made killing too easy. They said, that with the sword, you could feel the weight of the life you took.

In the same way, I think we NEED to be exposed to this. Whether the war is right or wrong, I think we are too insulated it from it.

It's become a sidebar, and "Oh by the way..." in everyday life...

Petrea said...

Yes, Bernie. Beautiful. You seem to be one of the few people who has read enough to form an opinion based on your knowledge (rather than what some commentator has to say).

And then we have "ook ook." Because we needed it!

Miss H, I like that. Maybe I'll use a lower-case L and stop saying "a," as in "I am liberal." The word still has a meaning of its own aside from labels. I think we still don't know (our "governors" don't know) how to solve problems without force. The apes are way ahead of us in ways.

Laurie, "I love our service men and women. I just deeply wish we had no need for them." Well said. My brother went into the Army after graduate school. It was peace time. The military was good for him, a life-changer. Not every soldier ends up in combat and it can provide excellent training.

Ted, there you go being interesting again.

smilnsigh said...

Wondering why this Sergeant took her recruits on a public trail...? {I could add a Marine-type short comment, but I won't} >,-)

As to how I view all our Military, I view them as Warriors and am proud of them and grateful to them. And so, I'm very pleased to see that you {a self proclaimed 'bleeding heart liberal'} ,-) are open minded enough to be grateful to them, as well.

Yes, the need of a Military may well be medieval, but it is necessary. Simply because of human nature.

Human nature does not completely change. And no matter how many people want to just sit, and talk, and shake hands... There have been, are, and always will be those people, who will do those things perhaps... But who will also knife anyone who disagrees with them, in the back. And feel perfectly justified in so doing.

I wish those recruits well, also. Yes, there are many worse tests of self to come. May they stick it out and prevail.

Miss Mari-Nanci
When Twilight Embraces

Therese said...

Of course I am late for the posting side but I love it when people show those kinds of events.
We are at war and it is rarely showed what is happening behind the scene: recruits, soldiers in training (when they leave but also when they not/come back), families and so on. Communication in any way is key to a better life together.

Bernie K. said...

"War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."—Thomas Mann

Mann lived 'til 1955, so he saw what Chamberlain's cowardice accomplished. Was it an escape for Churchill to get on the BBC and foment war? No, because he was on the defensive. Was it cowardly, then, for Roosevelt's War Department to work with General Motors, et. al., to attack Europe? No, because it was necessary to defend Europe.

The "subterranean stream" (as H. Arendt had it) of atavistic murder had surfaced again in Western culture, threatening much more than the farms of the Loire or paintings in the Uffizi. The fundament of recourse to the law, of appeal to the sympathies of great nations, was at a knife's edge (a Long Knife).

We've been blinkered by that astounding success. Now, every time we draw our guns, we think we have to throw the barbarians back into Hell ("The Reds must NOT take possession of anything north of 49!"). And in our delusion we've missed the maceration of global alliances—hence Pri┼ítina, Kigali, Kandahar.

Let the armies stand at defense. Keep the powder dry; feed the troops and their families. But know that carving nations by force is a sin; only a culture that would mutilate a mountain with pictures of its heroes would mistake aggression for necessity.