Of the approximately 80 educators and media members that were in southern California last week from the Denver and Oklahoma City recruiting areas, we were was lucky enough to be one of just seven invited to witness the Eagle, Globe and Anchor ceremony in person.
The ceremony is an emotional moment for these newly minted Marines, as it's the culmination of months of intense training.
The Eagle, Globe and Anchor. It's the symbol that signifies the transformation from a recruit into a Marine.
"It's extremely important to every Marine, that ceremony. Be you an enlisted Marine or an officer," said Major Isaac Moore.
As their final test, recruits have to endure a grueling 54-hour struggle called "The Crucible".
It's 48 miles of hiking with their platoon that includes typical combat situations all while dealing with a lack of food and sleep.
The final obstacle of "The Crucible", nicknamed "The Reaper", is a climb over a brutally steep hill, completed just as the sun begins to rise.
"They say that the title of Marine is earned and never given and on that day you really understand what it means," said Major Hardy Robinson.
After completing this task, the exhausted recruits are awarded their Eagle, Globe and Anchor in a ceremony at the top of the hill.
At that moment, it begins to set in for these recruits what they have accomplished over these past three months.
"I remember fighting back tears and I believe that anybody that says they didn't either fight back tears or full on cry when they received their Eagle, Globe and Anchor maybe has a hard time fessing up to it," Major Moore said.
"The feeling that you get, words can't describe. The tears are flowing and you feel like you've accomplished something that you never thought you'd be able to accomplish because you're told the entire time that you would never be able to make it and you make it. It's awesome. It's an awesome feeling," said Staff Sgt. Keith Pryor.
It's not only the completion of an extremely taxing physical and mental challenge, but at this moment your drill instructor gives you a new title.
"When you receive your Eagle, Globe and Anchor and you're first referred to as a Marine, it's a life changing event it really, truly is. I remember exactly where I was. I remember exactly how I felt and that's something I'll take with me for the rest of my life and I'll venture to say it's the same for every Marine," Major Moore said.
After these new Marines finished "The Crucible", we got to sit down with them to what they call a "Warrior's Breakfast".
This was truly the highlight of our trip, being able to talk to these Marines about what they went through and seeing the pride in their eyes because of the title they had just earned.