America has changed in the past 100 years. But at least one institution has stayed true to its mission.
Since 1915, Parris Island has faithfully made Marines.
Each year, about 19,000 young men and women, wobbly-kneed and terrified, cross the causeway and land deep in the den of screaming drill instructors.
Over the course of 13 weeks of boot camps, hands accustomed to working smart phones learn the ins and outs of M16s. Feet once coddled in sneakers become calloused in mud-covered boots. And old personas drift to the floor along with locks of buzzed hair.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Island Packet
Recruits are reshaped and reborn.
This process happens each and every day just a few paces away as the rest of us go about our busy lived bathed in freedom.
We benefit despite our ignorance. There would be no Beaufort or Port Royal -- nor a Beaufort County -- as we know it without Parris Island.
"Parris Island in World War II is the springboard that launched Beaufort County into its current prosperity," Larry Rowland, a Beaufort County historian, recently told reporter Ashley Fahey.
Parris Island has also held off development on its grounds, ensuring that historical sites including Santa Elena and Charlesfort are still intact.
And depot activities are the fuel for our local economy, generating about $401 million in economic activity each year.
Our American history would certainly have been different if not for the more than one million Marines trained on Parris Island then deployed to fight in every American conflict.
While their individual experiences differ, it's surprising to hear how many Marines -- young and old -- consider Parris Island a sacred spot. In putting together our special section, which you can find in Section E of today's paper, Marines we interviewed said it time and time again. Parris Island is revered ground for so many who have given so much. It is home to them. It is where they put away childish things and took up the cloak of honor, courage and commitment.
We are grateful for their sacrifices. Their story is our American story. And on the depot's centennial, we celebrate with these warriors.