Memorial Day: We know the faces

Every time I see a photo of a US Marine, I am transported back in time 40 years.

It was back in 1982, when a formerly lumpy 26-year-old three-and-a-half-year college student fought

Crawled and forced himself through boot camp by the ragged edge of tentative tenacity.

I remember the morning wake-up calls — drill instructors slammed trash can lids on the spotless floor, barracks overhead lights

Stinging sleepy eyes like stinging sparks, the split-second scramble to spring out of bed, or fall off the upper bed like a bowling ball

and stand at attention, in my underwear, in front of your rack.

I remember the bedtime ritual of every recruit lying in his bed, staring upward and reciting or singing the Marine Corps Hymn in uniso

I've experienced all of the intricacies, humiliations, struggles, pain, tiredness, unrelenting pressure to do well, discombobulating discomfort, and persistent self-doubt that go into becoming a Marine

 I know these things because I've experienced them firsthand.

Freedom isn't simply a dusty word we bring out on patriotic holidays

it's a dynamic reality that far too few people appreciate while they have it and that everyone regrets when it's gone.