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First college essay, 10 years since high school. Descriptive essay for basic English 101


jmack3d 1 / 1  
Feb 5, 2017   #1
Hello everyone, it has been 10 years since high school, 9 of them being in the Marine Corps. I am now in college and have my first English essay due, a descriptive essay which requires the basics of concept understanding. I have always been a good writer, however I don't understand the rules to well. Where to place commas, when to place a semicolon ect.. So if anyone could look this over and let me know of any obvious mistakes I would appreciate it. For example, my essay is about Parris Island, a proper noun. Do I capitalize the word island anywhere else in the essay even if it doesn't have the word Parris in front? Thanks in advance. Also, I put * marks in places where I thought something was wrong.

Parris Island, South Carolina



Silence and darkness filled the bus in the late September night. The previous hours were filled with jovial excitement as everyone spoke of how they would conquer the days ahead. However when the bus passed that distinctive red sign, the reality of arriving at Parris Island, South Carolina finally set in. My whole life led me to this point, the point of no return. All around me were people of different backgrounds and places, all eager to see if they had what it takes. As the bus crept to a grinding halt, a fierce and intense looking Drill Instructor stepped on board. "Here we go" I said to myself, knowing full well my greatest test was about to begin. My world was about to be shattered, and I had no idea of the trials that lay ahead. The island, the Physical Fitness Test and my graduation made boot camp a journey I will never forget.

When I arrived at Parris Island, the first thing I noticed besides the yelling and chaos was oddly enough, the smell. That salty, musky and humid smell brought forth by the murky alligator infested swamp that surrounded the island. We were fed stories of former recruits who tried to escape through the swamp, only to never be found again and presumably eaten by the native wildlife. I arrived in September, which meant it was humid and hot, and sweating became a daily normality. I also had to endure the infamous sand flea, which was a blood sucking fly attracted to sweat that I wasn't allowed to swat. Because I arrived late in the year, I had to endure the cold weather during my last month in training. In the Crucible, which was the final culminating test to graduate, I found out what cold really was. During this three day long outdoor exercise, the temperature was around 36 °F and it rained nearly every day. At one point I even had to low crawl through areas where I would be submerged in near freezing water. This was easily the coldest I had ever been. As if boot camp wasn't hard already, the island itself presented challenges that only added to the overall difficulty of my training.

Even though the island didn't make things easy, I still had to complete numerous tests to graduate and become a Marine. One of the most important tests was the Physical Fitness Test, which determines the physical ability of all Marines. With a three mile run, twenty pull-ups and one hundred crunches, it could challenge even the fittest of men and women. The first portion of the test was crunches, which I considered the easiest. I flew through them and was on to the pull-ups. I quickly did seventeen pull-ups and mustered as much strength as I could to knock out the last few to give me twenty, a perfect score so far. I was now tiring, the heat had already made me begin to sweat and I hadn't even started the run yet. As I leaned forward at the starting line, the Drill Instructor shouted "ready, go!"* and we were off. There were over one hundred recruits all running the same road and I had to fight my way to move past them. At the one-mile mark I was flying, passing recruit after recruit determined to make a good time. Past the halfway point I was exhausted, breathing heavy and drenched in sweat. I was on an excellent pace, and once I passed the 2.5*-mile mark I knew it was time to give it my all in the final stretch. I drove my legs into the black pavement and began to sprint as the finish line became visible. With every ounce of energy I had, I surged past the finish and proceeded to collapse in the grass near the road. "Eighteen minutes fifteen seconds, get some water!" the Drill Instructor shouted, as I stood up and walked to my canteen. I had passed the test; I was on my way to graduation and becoming a Marine.

On graduation day I was dressed in my crisp, olive green uniform with the rest of my platoon. Our shiny, freshly polished black shoes thundered along the road as we marched towards the graduation building. After three months of not speaking to my loved ones, I was finally going to see them. Not as the eighteen year old kid that just graduated high school, *but as a Marine. As we entered the building I scanned the audience looking for my family. I spotted them dressed in red and gold, the colors of the Marine Corps. I stood in formation as announcements were made and songs were played, eager to finally embrace my family. My Senior Drill Instructor moved slowly down the line, commending each new Marine. When he came to me, he held out his hand and gave me a small matte black pin which was the Eagle, Globe and Anchor - the symbol of the Marine Corps*. "Congratulations Marine" he said, I knew then that this wasn't a dream, it was real. I didn't think I would be emotional, but I couldn't hold back the tears. I thought back to the previous three months, the pain and misery that led me to this point. At the end of the ceremony the announcer said, "*ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Americas newest United States Marines!" At that moment, we were dismissed and my family rushed to my side with smiling faces. Never in my life had I felt as proud as I did at that moment. I was going home a Marine.

The Island, the Physical Fitness Test and my graduation experiences in boot camp prepared me for the rest of my career, as well as the rest of my life. The foundation for my success both in and out of the Marines was laid in the sands of Parris Island. From the exhausting final sprint in my physical fitness test, to the pride of earning the title, I learned what my potential truly was. I was broken down in every way a person can be, only to be built into the person I am today. I became stronger, smarter and learned to live without fear or self-doubt. The physical and intangible qualities I gained will stay with me forever. I was challenged from the moment I stepped off that bus, and my life would never be the same. Through blood, sweat and tears I achieved my place among the few and the proud.

Holt [Contributor] - / 8,847 2635  
Feb 5, 2017   #2
Hi Jeremy, in answer to your specific question, the answer is no. You do not have to write island as a capitalized word if it does not accompany a proper noun. The term "island" is general while " Parris Island" is the name of a specific place, which happens to be an island, so both words are capitalized in that instance.

In the second sentence of your essay, place a comma after the word "However". In the quoted dialogue "Here we go", you need to place a period at the end of that statement as that is a complete thought that is not part of the regular sentence. Punctuation marks are still used on quotes, thoughts, and dialogues within an essay. Physical fitness test does not need to be capitalized as that describes an action, not a noun.

For the second paragraph, place a comma after the word "noticed", then also after "chaos". The additional corrections are:
1. A comma must be used to separate the words " musky and humid smell..."
2. Correction: ...never to be found again, presumably eaten by...

Third paragraph:
1. The correct way to write it is "Ready, go!" Quoted dialogue is considered a stand alone sentence and follows its own set of writing rules.

2. "Drill master shouted. I stood up and went to my canteen. "

Paragraph 4:
1. The asterisks in this section were written properly.
2. Use a period in "Congratulations Marine."
3. "Ladies and gentlemen..."

Paragraph 5:
1. ... through blood, sweat, and tears...

Consider shortening some of your paragraphs by compressing them into shorter sentences. The essay becomes a bit boring to read because the descriptions seem to drone on and on. Combine actions in sentences where it will be possible. Shorten the essay otherwise you will lose the reader midstream due to lack of interest.
OP jmack3d 1 / 1  
Feb 5, 2017   #3
Thank you very much for the help, here corrections I have questions on:

"Here we go." I said to myself, knowing full well my greatest test was about to begin. -Is this what you meant?

Are these corrected properly?
When I arrived at Parris Island, South Carolina the first thing I noticed, besides the yelling and chaos, was oddly enough the smell.

We were fed stories of former recruits who tried to escape through the swamp ...never be found again and presumably eaten by the native wildlife.

As I leaned forward at the starting line, the Drill Instructor shouted "Ready, go!" and we were off.

"Congratulations Marine." he said, - If things in the quotations are standalone, would I capitalize the He in he said, ?

At the end of the ceremony the announcer said, "Ladies and gentlemen... I present to you Americas newest United States Marines!"

Lastly, for Physical Fitness Test, since its an official actual event in the Marines woudnt it be capitalized? For example, The annual Physical Fitness Test was a challenge
Holt [Contributor] - / 8,847 2635  
Feb 6, 2017   #4
Yes, the presentation of the "Here we go." statement is exactly what I meant. The same goes for the changes in Parris Island. However, I seem to have missed just one comma to help in the presentation of the sentence. Place a comma after "oddly enough" since that is a descriptive term.

I think there is a better way to present the line about native wildlife. You can instead say

"...again. The story goes that they were presumably eaten by ..."

Capitalize the word He in the sentence "Congratulations Marine." since you placed a period after it. Use a lower case form outside of the quote is the quotation itself has a comma within it which connotes a continuing action or dialogue.

With regards to the Physical Fitness Test, it would depend upon whether that is the description of an action or the name of an event. The name of an event would always be capitalized as part of the rules governing the use of proper nouns. If it is just a description of an action,then it should be lower case.


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