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According to Wikipedia (because who quotes Webster's anymore in this techy age!) a ‘crucible’ is a container that can withstand extremely high temperatures and is used in the production of metal, glass and pigments. I looked it up because I was curious as to why ‘The Crucible” is called , well, ‘The Crucible”.
Knowing that the powers that be in the Marine Corps stick to years of tradition and have symbolism woven into every aspect of their being from the ‘leatherneck’ collar of their dress blues to the ‘blood stripe’ donned by Marines to remember the blood of their fallen brothers, I pondered the symbolism of the crucible.
What possible symbolism could a container hold for the Marine Corps?? Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? To see a picture of ‘a crucible’ it resembles a bland, uninviting pot. Nothing like the Marines I’ve seen which almost demand a second glance for their attention to detail and perfection.
But the use….ah….THEREIN the symbolism lies! A crucible is able to withstand very high temperatures….much like our in-the-process-of-being-forged Marines. They’ve been exposed to ‘high heat’ for 12 weeks now. They’ve come from being deer-in-the-headlights , moppy headed kids to finely tuned, alike thinking, efficient Marines. Like metal, It took a process to get them there….there was the melting
away of their old selves……say goodbye to baggy jeans, sleeping till noon and the half-way doing the chores when asked for the 10th time. The imperfections are heated out of the steel…..just as the imperfections of our ‘boys’ were forged out of them (sometimes much to their dismay) until what remained was pure.
Crucible steel is some of the finest, (now rare) steel that has ever been produced. It’s a precision craft….and not everyone can do it….just like not everyone can be a Marine. But a metal that can withstand that heat, can be forged into some of the most precious, rare items found. Just like our boys.
And with that, I thought of OUR crucible…as parents. We’ve withstood heat before…..bringing these children into the world was no picnic. Then you throw in finances, worries, education, friends, rebellion and all the ‘other’ elements that have turned up the heat on us….yet we remained strong.
Then came our melting point. That day, that no matter how much pride you have in your son, you have to admit that when they told you they wanted to be a Marine your heart dropped…even if only for a minute. Let the melting begin. Pretty soon, you realized you were nothing like your former self. You felt like a melted mass of ‘blah’. You shipped this kid off to strangers in hopes that they will ‘love’ him as much as you do…only to read and find out the the ‘love’ a DI shows him may not be what you had in mind. “WHAT have I done?” “WHAT was HE thinking?” often come to mind…you feel like you can’t move…trapped by the indistinguishable emotions that seem to mix with your form. But then, the heat is turned up…..no communication. Wondering every minute what they are doing…..not being able to eat for fear that they are hungry….almost unbearable temperatures boil the very soul of your being until you think you will break.
But then, something miraculous happened….those worries, insecurities, fears slowly begin to be released. You realize that the ‘heat’ is there for a reason and learn to let go of those things you once held tight to…and with that find that you are more at peace with all that is happening and the transformation that is taken place.
Then comes your final test. The time has come that your recruit proves their worth…..they are put through the test…and so are our nerves! But in the end, they have a new form…..Marine. And so do we…..Marine Parents. And although other ‘metals’ can be polished to be beautiful and catch your eye, none are like a crucible metal…..it’s pure through and through. It’s stood the test. It’s exceeded the expectation. And with that….transformation.
Symbolism is more than fitting.
Bring on the crucible….I’m ready to be molded!