September 19, 2017
By David Riera, Platoon Member & Fellow Alum
This week is the Platoon Leadership Summit of 2017—a week of sessions in which Platoon Leaders and their leadership team members share experience, impart wisdom, and brainstorm new ways to create community impact.
Last year my platoon—the Miami 1st Platoon—was awarded Platoon of the Year for our work with the National Park Conservation Association. It was a truly special occasion for me, perhaps most of all, for the togetherness, camaraderie and sense of tradition.
We were honored to receive Platoon of the Year, as our competition was also very worthy. We were recognized for our impact through our relationship with the NPCA, which the platoon forged throughout the year.
Our work has focused on alleviating the National Park Service’s deferred maintenance backlog. We have demolished and reconstructed new camping platforms in Everglades National Park for youth groups. We also established an annual volunteer trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, where we complete demolition, restoration, and maintenance projects.
In The Mission Continues, we take on traditions similar to the military, such as the changing of the guard. The Summit is one of those events where we get to experience these precious traditions together. During last year’s Summit, as well as earning the highest honor a service platoon can earn, we celebrated the passing down of the Platoon Leader role from Edwin Vasco to Derek Auguste.
In the Marine Corps, traditions like this were founded on the deepest principles of Semper Fidelis, (Always Faithful). This means that you would always expect fellow Marine to relieve you during duties like guarding the arsenal, firewatch on the deck, rotation in the clinic, and even kitchen or laundry patrol.
After having been through so much together, the changing of the guard ceremony was possibly the most meaningful event for me. The platoon awarded Edwin Vasco with the Marine Corps Non-Commissioned Officer Sword—a military tradition dating back to the 1700s.
For me, the changing of the guard hit home. It is both inspirational and motivational. It shines as a bright example of military tradition intertwined with a long standing feeling of honor, courage, and commitment. The honor of serving with my new platoon, the courage to step forward even when others do not, and most importantly the commitment to self, others around you, and the cause.
I left feeling blessed and even rejuvenated by this event and everyone that attended. C.S. Lewis said it best, “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”
Next week Platoon Leaders from across the country—old and new—will have this same shared experience, and hopefully come away feeling as empowered and connected as I did last year.
May the best platoon win!
Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.