Shade It Black is a story of two versions of marines. One is the brothers in arms we all want them to be. These Marines are selfless and brave. These are the Marines that would run across camp during an attack to make sure their comrade is safe. These are the Marines who would follow another marine into a lake in full gear to save him from drowning or die trying. These are the marines who would go back into the burning Humvee to get their man out when the army soldiers are told to give up and get out. These are the marines that make us proud to be Americans, the marines that we have grown to know as the pinnacle of Americanism and patriotism and honor. These marines live up to the motto Semper Fi- Always loyal- to their very last breath. They go to a world of hatred and death and find a way to support one another through it. Their spirit and sense of humanity not only survives but somehow grows stronger thanks to the impossibly strong love they feel for their fellow marines. Being a marine, feeling that unshakable brotherhood was a privilege: The greatest honor one could achieve in this life-serving their brothers and serving this great nation. My uncle was a marine and I idolized him for it. He was never ashamed of what happened. Of his past, his present and his future, he always had an unwavering certainty that was the life he wanted to lead.
However, the rest of the book is taken up by the other type of Marine. There is no romanticism here. These marines are brutal. They bully some of their own so badly they are driven to suicide, and then call the dead marines cowards. They have sex with anything that gives them the opportunity and often many that don't. Rape was such a concern that women would die from dehydration so they didn't have to go to the bathroom in the dark. Having to choose between staying hydrated and not getting raped is a decision no one should ever have to make. If this were a problem in the civilian world, it would be called an epidemic and over there it is how things are. It was sickening to read. We as a nation have been numbed to the concept of war to some extent. We realize it is bad, but we don't really mind it all that much. With our military might, there is not a force on earth that could defeat us. Our soldiers can still be killed but I always assumed they could at least rely on one another. I realize now, this is not always the case, and suddenly war seems so much worse.