I heard it said more than once on Parris Island that the men and women who have become Marines since 9/11 are the best they have ever had. Of course, each generation of Marines has arisen to the combat challenges in which it found itself. In that sense, all United States Marines at any given time in history are the "best."
However, if you take into consideration traits of the current generation I lovingly call POMOS, the fact that POMO Marines are unequaled can hardly be debated.
The man below is the curator of the Parris Island Museum. His name is Aulton Kohn. He is in his 60's. Oh, crap, what a fuzzy picture. I'm seriously in need of the 4g.
Mr. Kohn was a Marine Private First Class in Vietnam on patrol when his unit of 38 soldiers was decimated, leaving only him and another soldier alive.
Both of them had to survive in enemy territory for over 50 days before they were rescued. These men are great. Aulton is a great man. These men are heroes.
Consider that we are at the apex of cultural tolerance where civil rights are pretty much guaranteed for any and everyone. For the person or group who does not have his civil rights recognized, there is pretty much a 100% chance he can secure those.
Like many African-American men, Aulton Kohn found the military a proving ground where he could distinguish his humanity through acts bravery and service. Like many African-American men, I am sure he thought such distinction might help better his status in the civilian world.
POMOS don't necessarily need to join the Marines to prove themselves to others. They do not need to go into the military to prove that their race, their ethnicity, their "group" is human and equal to others in deeds of courage.
POMOS don't necessarily join the Marines to merely make mom and dad proud. Joining any military branch would make patriotic parents proud, because all branches contribute to the safety and welfare of our national security. Who wouldn't be proud?
POMOS don't necessarily join the Marines for "fun." I am not sure I know anybody who has joined the military for fun. For adventure maybe, but for fun I am not so sure.
POMOS are a cultural group of post-moderns who exhibit a unique baseline of behavioral traits like absurdity, suspicion of logical reliability, the re-enchantment of nature, a cynical aspiration to reason, vulgarity as a valid language, and experimental verification. Outside the military the POMO has his pick of alternative realities to pursue, his own customized illusion.
That is why I agree with the sentiment that this generation of U.S. Marines is the best. POMOS don't have to join the Marines. POMOS join the Marines because the Marines provides the POMO a position of consequence. The Marines afford him clarity for illusion, accountability for personal preference, solidarity for individualism.
Every obeyed or disobeyed order has a distinct consequence that ripples up and down the ranks to both extreme ends. Every manned or unmanned gun means something more or less to the whole. The fine integration of U.S.M.C. doctrine and protocol exhibits the integrated machinations of natural law.
The POMO finds himself in touch with the world, and that is the first time for many of them. It is an awful and strange and beautiful place for that brotherhood of 214,000. The world starts clicking into place. The things learned in school start making sense. The U.S.M.C. affords many POMOS the opportunity to be born again.