A morbid question, but ‘What would you give your life for’ was how we began the tour of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. I spent Friday night and Saturday (26/27 March 2010) with Scout Troop 1366 as an adult leader. Our tour guide also the Scout Master asked the boys this question as we began the day.
The FBI Academy is located on 385 acres shared with Quantico Marine Corp Base. It is a secure facility and therefore not generally open for public tours. Before our tour each person was required to provide their social security number and acknowledge waivers with regards to live ammunition on the premises. Aside from being a complex of classrooms, dormitory and training facility the academy is a memorial to courage and valor. The halls are filled with reminders of those brave men and women who excel as well as those who have given their life. There are walls covered with agents who have died in the line of duty as well as members of the “1/4” Club”* and other memorials for bravery and valor.
In one portion of the complex there is a foyer with a small fountain. The walls of this foyer are covered with memorials to those who die and have served. In directions around this hall are paths to classrooms, an auditorium, library and other locations. It is an interesting design philosophy to make such a morbid reminder about the commitment to the job these men and women make in the place where they undergo extensive training for 22 weeks.
Following our tour of the FBI Academy we visited the Marine Corp Museum just down the road from the Academy. The day was filled with a 1-2 punch and reminder of those who give their life that we may live. The Marine Corp Museum is a relatively new addition to the Washington DC area. Inside the museum rivals those maintained by the Smithsonian. Inside the main plaza is filled with aircraft and dioramas of aircraft and scenes of Marine Corp operations. Down the hallways the displays, photos showcase the history of the Marine Corp and their involvement of recent struggles for freedom and pushing back the threat of tyranny.
Several thoughts occurred to me while visiting these locations. I am personally grateful for those who apply, enlist to these organizations. If they give the ultimate sacrifice or not their commitment to uphold truth and exhibit brave acts enable me to enjoy freedom and exercise my agency in relative freedom. It also occurs to me that such a mentality is not natural. It is not natural for a person to walk into danger with death so eminent and act so bravely in the name of duty. This is a learned habit. The training undergone must remove the natural self-preservation inherent in our minds and replace it with concern for the person next to us or the unknown person who will benefit from our actions.
I am grateful for many things. I walk and act each day in freedom because of someone else’s sacrifice. I can make choices because someone else created this world allowing me to choose. I am free because someone else decided I was worth dying for.
* The 1/4″ Club is a group of FBI Special Agents who have been successful in shooting a firearm hitting a target three times with a 1/4″ of each other from 200 yards away. A remarkable feat.