Gazette Sea Foam: Bicycle ride raises money to bring parents to Marine graduation

May 9, 2011 

Marines march across the parade deck at the 2009 graduation ceremony at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. About 25,000 recruits graduate from the air station each year.

FILE/THE BEAUFORT GAZETTE

Thanks to John Weant of Missouri for sharing a story about the Marine Corps graduation ceremonies that are so important to Beaufort.

John is president and co-founder of the Marine Graduation Foundation.

He writes:

We are proud to invite you to take part in a very exciting undertaking we have planned for 2011.

A proud Marine parent came to us with the idea to bicycle from coast to coast, starting at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in Beaufort and ending at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in California, to raise money for the Marine Graduation Foundation.

We are an organization dedicated to an important cause: assisting families, most often parents, with travel expenses to attend the graduation of their new Marine if they cannot otherwise afford the trip.

The goal is to raise $500,000 through individual donations to create an endowment for the foundation to enable us to continue our work well into the future.

His trip will encompass approximately 4,000 miles while following a recruit company through its 13 weeks of basic training, concluding in San Diego on the date of that company's graduation.

He will leave Parris Island on July 29 and arrive in San Diego on Oct. 28.

For more information, go to www.nomarinealone.com or email buck@nomarinealone.com.

Following is a short explanation of the reason for the foundation and the motivation for this man's effort.

No Marine Alone

By Daniel Buckley

My name is Daniel Buckley, but most folks just call me Buck.

In September 2008 my son graduated private first class at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

Graduation from basic training is a two-day affair consisting of Family Day and Graduation Day.

On Family Day, the new Marines are reunited with their families after having minimal contact with them for the previous 13 weeks. The recruits are allowed to visit with their families for just a few hours before returning to the barracks.

On the following day the families do not see their new Marine until the recruits march onto the parade deck in formation.

Graduation day is a very significant moment in the life of every Marine and in the lives of their families, as well.

To earn the title of United States Marine is an effort few of us would be willing to undertake for a day, let alone for 13 weeks.

It is a process so rigorous as to be transformational and the family members upon reuniting with their son or daughter, brother or sister, are often dumbfounded by his or her new demeanor and quickly realize that this child of 13 weeks ago has become an adult worthy of great respect and admiration.

Sadly, too many new Marines stand proudly in formation knowing that their family is not among the cheering throngs in the bleachers and watch as their fellow graduates' families pour from the stands to greet them.

At the Marine Graduation Foundation, they believe that we all have a responsibility as Americans to help these new Marines and their families. I am honored to do everything I can to ensure that "No Marine Should Ever Stand Alone" on the proudest day of his or her life.

I watched my own son march on to the parade deck at Parris Island. As a parent, I can tell you that my sense of pride on that day cannot be described and I would have moved mountains to be there for him. In fact I rode my bicycle 1,000 miles from Portland, Maine, to be there.

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