Nature vs Nurture

As a wee lad my father would often bring me to his office when he was SgtMaj of the Marine Barracks in Vallejo, California. I mostly remember there was a soft serve ice cream machine somewhere in the building and a footlocker full of toy trains my dad’s predecessor had left behind in the office.

Morning colors was a daily event with an entire formation rendering honors. I always stood next to my dad on the steps of the headquarters building mimicking everything I saw the Marines doing. Here I was, a three or four year old kid responding to the commands: “Parade rest! Atten-hut! Hand salute! Order Arms!”

My sword wielding father during a parade at Marine Corps Barracks Vallejo, CA. Circa 1973-74.

 One morning I realized I wasn’t a Marine and must look silly doing all that parade deck stuff. So I just stood there while the Marines went through their morning ritual. Then I heard my dad’s voice softly rumble like very distant thunder: “What the %&#$ do you think you’re doing?” Instantly I was all snap and pop again.

It has been said when it comes to nature vs nurture, it is apparent that I was groomed for what I have become. Interestingly, all my dad’s Marines used to refer to me as the ‘next SgtMaj’ all the time. Like jungle cats grooming a cub, they’d growl asking when I was going to join up.

One day dad sat me down and very seriously said: “You know you don’t have to be a Marine right?” I responded that I understood and didn’t really want to be a Marine when I grew up. From then on I was adamant I wasn’t ever going to join, right up until about a week before I walked into the recruiting office.

Dang it, I guess it’s in the blood.

Semper Fidelis!
America’s SgtMaj

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