“I understand that what we have in this country is precious, and people sacrificed, bled and died for that,” says Kyle Carpenter (@chiksdigscars), the youngest living recipient of the Medal of Honor. As a 20-year-old US Marine deployed to Afghanistan, Kyle used his own body to shield a fellow Marine from a grenade blast. He barely survived and spent the next three years recovering from catastrophic injuries.
On Instagram, he shares his life of resilience with glimpses of marathon running, skydiving and cliff jumping, and he offers a message to his followers:
“You can get hurt or have a life-changing event and still work hard, be positive, enjoy life and most of all, come out better than you ever expected or thought you could.”
Now retired from the military, Kyle is pursuing a degree in International Studies at the University of South Carolina.
“I truly feel like I am living the American dream,” he says.
One day when we were just dating he randomly stopped in our conversation and said, “You know I’m going to marry you one day, right?”
I laughed it off thinking ‘how could he say that if we just started dating?’
Time goes by and I just know that he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, thinking ‘he was right.’
He asked me to marry him and told me “I’m going to do everything to make you the happiest and give you the wedding of your dreams.”
I giggled. He asked me why I was laughing, and I said “I’ve always dreamt of having fireworks at my wedding, but I know that it’s a far fetched idea and I want you to know that just marrying you will be enough.”
He went on deployment, and I had to do all the wedding planning on my own.
The little bit of time we got to talk he always sounded so guilty for not being able to help, but assured me that he would do as much as possible when he got back and that he wanted everything to be perfect.
On our wedding reception we were dancing in a line to the train song (him and I in the front of the line), when before you know it almost all our guests are in our dancing train, the DJ opens the doors and leads the train outside to two chairs. I started asking him,”Wait what’s going on?”
Then fireworks start to burst in the sky.
“You said you wanted fireworks,” said my husband, “you got them.”
As Jared Keller noted for Mic, we fail our veterans every day — yes, even on Veterans Day. Perhaps one of the reasons why is because it is still so easy to lump everyone together, to stigmatize and stereotype when we should be humanizing. A new photo series called The Soldier Art Projectaims to change this, capturing the humans who inhabit the uniforms in powerful and often poignant portraits.
With this project, Devin Mitchell has taken pains to represent the veterans of different races, sexual orientations, religions and gender. “It is a really big deal, in my opinion, that sometimes people are denied jobs on the basis of what they look like, they are not equally considered for various opportunities, and in some jurisdictions, are good enough to serve but not good enough to qualify for equal protection under the law,”
November 10, 1775: The U.S. Marine Corps Is Founded
On this day in 1775, the U.S. Marine Corps was founded. The birthplace of the Marines is tied to the Tun Tavern on Water Street in Philadelphia, which was used as a recruiting headquarters for the Revolutionary War in November of 1775. The Corps was later abolished at the war’s end, for economic reasons, and reestablished on July 11.
The Marine Corps celebrated its new birthday, or Marine Corps Day, on July 11 from 1799 until 1921. In 1921, the date was permanently changed to November 10 to commemorate the establishment of the Corps to aid in the Revolutionary War.
Enjoy more stories of service from across the country and from all branches of service with PBS Stories of Service.
Photo: Couresy of USMC War Memorial Night by Catie Drew.
Lance Cpl. Jasmine Abrego is an office clerk who dreams of becoming a warrior.
She’s flat on her stomach in the dirt, in full combat gear. Suddenly she pops up, slings a 44-pound metal tripod on her back and lurches forward in a crab-like run. Finally, she slams the tripod to the ground. A male Marine slaps a .50-caliber machine gun into place.
They fire imaginary bullets at an unseen target before pulling back. The exercise is over. Abrego who is just 20 years old and stands at 5 foot 2 inches explains why she volunteered for this training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
"Hopefully, I’ll be able to go overseas and kick bad guys butts," she says. An uncle who served in the Marines inspired her, and she wants to be a role model to her six brothers and sisters. But she knows she will have to train hard to get a slot in the infantry.
"I’ve just got to get used to it," Abrego says. "The more I do it, the better I get. A strong mind can do it."
But even a strong mind and body might not be enough. The Marines will spend the next year trying to decide whether women — who make up just 7 percent of the Marine Corps — have what it takes to serve in the tough, unforgiving world of ground combat.
A tear rolls down the cheek of Pfc. Jesus Cardenas, Platoon 3086, Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, after he earned his Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem and the title Marine on Oct. 25, 2014, on Parris Island, S.C. Only those imbued with the Corps’ core values can earn the title Marine. Cardenas, 19, from Queens, N.Y., is scheduled to graduate Oct. 31, 2014. Parris Island has been the site of Marine Corps recruit training since Nov. 1, 1915. Today, approximately 20,000 recruits come to Parris Island annually for the chance to become United States Marines by enduring 13 weeks of rigorous, transformative training. Parris Island is home to entry-level enlisted training for 50 percent of males and 100 percent of females in the Marine Corps. (Photo by Cpl. Caitlin Brink)