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 dadâ€™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: â€œParade rest! Atten-hut! Hand salute! Order Arms!â€
One morning I realized I wasnâ€™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 dadâ€™s voice softly rumble like very distant thunder: â€œWhat the %&#$ do you think youâ€™re doing?â€ 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 dadâ€™s Marines used to refer to me as the â€˜next SgtMajâ€™ all the time. Like jungle cats grooming a cub, theyâ€™d growl asking when I was going to join up.
One day dad sat me down and very seriously said: â€œYou know you donâ€™t have to be a Marine right?â€ I responded that I understood and didnâ€™t really want to be a Marine when I grew up. From then on I was adamant I wasnâ€™t ever going to join, right up until about a week before I walked into the recruiting office.
Dang it, I guess itâ€™s in the blood.