I was 19 years old stationed in Okinawa, Japan when our unit’s Staff Sergeant came busting out the maintenance door yelling at us to get in formation. All of us dropped what we were doing and sprinted to our spots. Staff Sergeant hadn’t raised his voice like that since the days he was training recruits in San Diego as a Drill Instructor.
“Gents, I want you to remember something. I grew up in the streets of East Los Angeles. There were gangs on our blocks, my parents were immigrants from Mexico, working their fucking asses off to make sure we stayed out of trouble. I never liked school but loved cars. I didn't have the grades to get into school but I could join the Marines. I was a private like you 15 years ago, busting my ass with long nights and days to get here today. Why am I telling you this? Because someday you’re going to have people dig in your ass, question how good you are, your integrity all types of stuff. You’re going to get chewed out, beaten down, and taken out to lunch. But no matter what happens, you pick yourself up off the ground. You get back to work. You finish the mission and never forget where you came from.”
It’s one of my favorite speeches in my life. It was so raw, powerful and has been the basis for my work. No matter how many times you get beaten down, questioned about your character and integrity, you pick yourself back up. You remember the times from when you first started working how much blood sweat and tears you have put in. You remember the long nights, the sleepless days where you were wondering if anything you were doing mattered anymore. Because those were the days that shaped you into who you are today.
Don’t forget where you come from. Ever.