Honor, Courage, Commitment


Sargent Mathew Palen (shown above on the right side in navy blue shirt) and myself (shown above on the left)

Luis Zambrano, Journalist

Twelve weeks, 846 miles away from home, no contact with anyone outside of base, eight hours of sleep, and intense training everyday.  

This is the process to be a part of “The Few, The Proud,” the most prestigious and elite military branch within the United States military: The United States Marine Corps.

Ever since I was young, I’ve always been competitive and strived to be the best at everything I did, which influenced my decision to  become a Marine.

My family came to America in 1982 when my father was only two years old. Being natives from Colombia, none of them knew English. 

Struggling with the inability to speak proper English, my family moved to Mount Vernon, New York a working-class town in Westchester county where my grandmother worked tirelessly to support her five children.

For many people, their potential success is what drives them to go to top colleges and do well in high school. For me, though, it’s always been my family. 

Ever since I started school, the pressure was on me; I always heard stories about their own lives, which enlightened me on what not to do, how to work hard, and how to be the difference in my family. 

Becoming a Marine is a lengthy and intense process, though. The age limit caps off at 28 (unless you have prior military service), and you can start the process as early as 17. You must pass all health regulations, and a full FBI check, giving up a few of your personal rights to the FBI.

I’ve found though, that there’s a bit of a stigma behind joining the military, and many believe it’s something you do when you can’t get into college or you have nothing going for you. 

But there are so many other reasons to enlist. 

What really drove me to join was how important my family is to me and the outstanding amount of benefits I receive after serving my time which will allow me to give back to my family and build a base for the future. 

The ability to say I am a United States Marine fulfills my personal goal of being a part of something only few can qualify for. 

As my recruiter always said to me “All men and women are created equal, but then some become Marines.”

As I work hard to take on this next venture, I know my grandmother will always be proud, as she helped create the man I am today with her hard work and selflessness.