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Remember to keep the Memorial in Day

AP Photo Volunteer Ireland Ellis, 16, places flowers at the Los Angeles National Cemetery to honor fallen soldiers and health care workers in Los Angeles, Monday. The annual Memorial Day commemoration at the cemetery was held without the public in attendance due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

This year has been like no other. Not in Roswell or Chaves County, not like any other place in the world.

Everyone’s life has changed, and the events of COVID-19 have forced us to adjust our lives. We should all take the time to remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice: their lives.

Marine Corps rules

What the coronavirus has done has forced people in small-town America to learn the first four lessons all marines are taught during boot camp.

No. 1, to adapt. As a former marine, during boot camp, we were taught that in war as in life, there may be things that aren’t planned for, you cannot let it stop you. As a marine, the first goal is always to accomplish the mission no matter what, and then everything comes after that.

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No. 2, adjust. As a marine you may have to adjust to your surroundings and do things differently than the mission had called for. It doesn’t matter, it goes back to accomplishing the mission.

No. 3, overcome. There will be times obstacles may be in your way of accomplishing the mission. In life you will have to overcome the loss of life, you may have to go on and do things that will help the team accomplish the mission, because, in the Marine Corps, it is always about the mission first, last, and always. Everything else is after that.

No. 4, team — It’s always about the team being as one. That means individuals putting their egos aside for the good of the team and working as one to accomplishing the mission as a team.

What Roswell and Chaves County did was adapt, adjust, overcome, and become a team. The 2020 spring sports season was shut down, and games couldn’t be played. Yet, athletes were honored for their time in high school, and for what they meant to the community and each school.

The whole town rallied to take an unfair hand dealt them and made the most of it. Roswell made lemonade out of lemons. That is what you have to do when unfair things happen to you in your life. Life happens through no fault of anyone, and it will continue to happen.

On Monday, as we celebrated Memorial Day, as a former marine, we all know that freedom is not free. I wanted to say thank you to all my brothers and sisters, people that have served and will serve in the: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard and any other branches of the armed services.

Each of you knows what it’s like to be away from the comforts of home and be afraid. Afraid of not knowing what is next and what to expect.

Seniors going into

the military

For some of you graduating seniors, you will go into the service for your personal reasons. Know that we are proud of you and appreciate you being willing to give the ultimate sacrifice. What you will receive is far more than a paycheck you will earn.

Being in the service will give you discipline, and a drive to accomplish any goal that you set before you. It will give you an unmatched work ethic. It will give you the desire to never, never quit. This will translate to when you feel like you cannot run another step, do another push-up or do another pull-up.

Many of you won’t understand how your life got unreasonably hard overnight, just by getting on the bus and leaving home. For me, it was when the bus rolled through the gates of Parris Island at 3 a.m. and my drill instructors got on the bus and ordered everyone to sit up straight and to stop talking.

I realized my life had just changed, and nothing I have ever experienced to this point in my life will equate to that feeling I had.

Many of you will think, what did I do? Your drill instructor will be so tough on you, don’t take it personally. This whole boot camp thing is to make you tougher and to bring out the best in you. Know as you look to the left and the right, and in front of you and behind you, you will have a choice to quit at any time, but those who stay are setting the tone for the rest of their lives. And become champions.

Everyone on the bus is going to be in the same situation. When you feel like you can’t handle it anymore, look around and know that you can. Everyone there is going through the same thing, they are barely hanging on, just like you. Don’t be the weak link.

When you think you can’t run anymore or do another push-up or do another bend-and-thrust on the quarter-deck, you can. Keep going, it is going to be tough, probably tougher than anything you have ever experienced, and the drill instructors’ job is to find your weakness and push your buttons. It is their job to break you mentally, physically, or both.

Trust me, everyone will be broken, whether they show it or not. The goal is to change your language from you, me, and I, to, us, we, ours. It has to be that way in order to win, because the harder you train in boot camp and the more you become one, the better your chance for survival if and when you go to war.

The goal is for your platoon to become one, and to accomplish the mission. In boot camp, the goal is to win the best platoon, drill, but the main goal is to be a team and work as one. There will be times when during physical training you will have to help your brother, you might even let your time slide to get your buddy across to finish line during a run.

That’s OK, it’s no different than helping one of your teammates during a practice run on time. When that happens, you know you are becoming one and thinking like a team.

There will be times as you attempt to attain the goal of whatever branch you go through, that you may be tempted to quit. Know joining whatever service you seek to attain, it won’t be easy. Everyone going through boot camp is tired, battered and bruised, and thinks those thoughts. It’s normal, but don’t quit. When you feel like you can’t take it anymore, remember, that’s the purpose.

In the end, when you graduate, there will be a lifelong bond, a brotherhood that can never be broken through life or death. Because of the pain of training, and the shared camaraderie, we don’t mind dying for each other or this country.

As you go through 12 weeks of boot camp, understand the harder you work, the better prepared you will be. Boot camp is designed to save your life so that no one must deliver bad news to your family.

The night before you graduate, your drill instructors will have you pull your footlockers up and you form a squared circle and they tell you to relax. There is no better feeling than that. You will never feel like that again, until the next morning when you put on your Class A uniform, and you hit the parade deck. The feeling of pride you feel seeing all of your family and friends on the best day of your life. They don’t know the heck you went through for the last 12 weeks. Only you and those getting ready to graduate with you, know. That is the best feeling you will ever feel. It is indescribable. To know that you have achieved a goal that seemed so far away 12 weeks ago is a feeling that will stay with you a lifetime. Let me be the first to tell you to thank you and tell you to enjoy it.

Normal life

Normally, if all things were normal. Life would have had Hike It and Spike It, playing on Sunday in the “Show Me the Money” game for their 25th anniversary. Which will be next year. ESPN on Monday would have had baseball on from morning until night. Friends would have been swimming at pools and going to beaches hanging out. Graduates would just be starting to enjoy their summer before turning into adults.

People are so starved for sports that they are watching Korean baseball. What has given Americans hope is NASCAR honoring the veterans before, during, and after the Coca Cola 600 race on Sunday. Brad Keselowski outraced seven-time champion Jimmy Johnson to win.

For my fellow veterans, I want to say thank you for leaving the best legacy one can give another human being, the gift of life. For every coach, referee and athlete it should mean something every time the national anthem is played before a game.

To the class of 2020, you will be linked to the attributes of being a marine. You have adapted, adjusted, overcome and become a team of one, during unfair circumstances in life. Thank you for all the great memories you have given me over the last three years. I wish you continued success, understand that you can have the same success in life as you had in high school. Expect it, believe it, and know it.

“As we set today aside to honor and thank our veterans, let us be mindful that we should do this every day of the year and not just one.” —Beth Pennington.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.


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