The Marines cannot make good people, but they can bring out the good in people

In a time when monotony floods the lives of teenagers, the military offers an opportunity to change and grow


Aiden Owen

A veteran shakes hands with students of MHS.

At the age of 18, there was a crossroad I had to face. One path was to continue the monotony of school but with a twist: tens of thousands of dollars of debt that will accumulate as my life still takes no direction. Inches away from enrolling open at a middle of the line college to forcefully continue studies despite the 14-year trial going awful and, despite repeated attempts to convince myself that a college diploma would make the 4-8 year grind worth, the allure grew weaker every day.

Those feelings contrast the societal pressure that promotes college as the only choice—well, one of two choices. As my parents always said, I had the choice between “college or military.” However, not even years ago, the choice seemed one-dimensional. Stories of heroes defending a nation that has given me everything always ran prominently in the news. I saw heroes where heroes stood. Celebrity-culture places few real heroes on pedestals, hiding blemishes with a foundation of perfection. Unraveling this idea, I began to see men. I began to see people doing right despite the condition despite the sacrifice. I saw those who stood whilst having every option and ability to run. I saw those who reached their potential. No longer did I see a mythical unreachable feat but instead a direction.

I was told to go to school. I was told to try to get good grades. I was told when I could sleep and where I could go. I was told what I could be. Since before coherent memories began to form, I was being taught by someone who had the pain of educating me. I retained what I thought to be useless information long enough to write it down on test because I had convinced myself that I didn’t need to know it in life while at the same time having absolutely no idea what I wanted out of life.

The system didn’t work for me. I wasn’t able to use my mental capacity to honestly attempt to better myself person. I did the bare minimum on every test giving as little effort on every assignment. And because the information comes easily to me, I was able to stay a middle-of-the-line student. But over the past 14 years, I have slowly begun to resent this work ethic. I have seen my peers achieve things that I know I would be able and the burden falls on me alone. Joining the marines, in a way, has been my attempt to alter the person I was becoming.

In Highlands Ranch, just days ago, two students at a STEM school had every intention of executing a mass shooting of fellow students. Brendan Bialy, a poolie (which is a slang term for a Marine recruit) out of the Metro South Delayed Entry Program lunged at one of the shooter and with the help of a couple of other students they were able to restrain the shooter. Without this act of courage, many more could have died to the most despicable act of cowardness.

The delayed entry program is where poolies meet with their recruiters to mentally and physically prepare for boot camp. Poolies have been given a ship date, and it is a chance to compare current physical standing with that of their peers. Bialy is set to leave for marine basic this summer.

The system cannot make good people, but it can bring out the good in people. It teaches how to work hard and values should be placed. No system would teach the selflessness needed to lung at an active shooter. There is not a chance to be a hero every day. Action is often times dictated by the situation. Split-second decisions by good people make heroes.

But the opposite is also true. There is also a chance to be something less desired. To back away from adversity. Most days these decisions will not make the news. Most days the only person that is aware of the action taken is oneself. Continuing to back away from adversity, giving a half effort, and not achieving potential brings a question that asks if the circumstances currently lived in needs a change.

I and many others from different ways of life come together to reach potential. It is through the opportunities presented from the military that gives some the ability to excel in a different path.