In my piece, I have interpreted religion to be any object of conscientious regard and pursuit or a specific system of belief involving a code of ethics and a philosophy. I have related these interpretations to my younger brother's experience of entering the United States Marine Corps. Recruit training at Paris Island, South Carolina challenges young men and women spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. The culminating event in recruit training is a three-day "final exam" known as The Crucible. After three days of food and sleep deprivation, recruits hump the final nine miles home. Upon arrival, they stand in formation before the Iwo Jima monument, receive their Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, and claim the title United States Marine. If a recruit does not finish all nine miles, although they have proven successful in all other areas, they will not graduate. As a result, the possession of this title represents a freedom all its own. It stands for all they have endured and is the ultimate independence from the goal that has been their lives for the past three months. They are forever changed; they are United States Marines.

Sara Davern