Teacher shares essay of Marine killed in Iraq
Posted by The Oregonian April 25, 2007 16:30PM

Lance Cpl. Dale Peterson, who grew up in Burns and graduated in 2005 from Redmond High School, died Monday when a roadside bomb exploded in Iraq. One of his teachers shared an essay he wrote before he entered the military that talks about wanting to enter the Marines and learning to become his own person. You can read the essay below.

My Own Person?
Dale Peterson

Growing up my parents are the people who instilled the morals and the values that I have today. I used to attend church every Sunday and also go to a youth group that met on Monday nights. This helped me become the person that I am today. At my youth group we would sit around and talk about issues such as peer pressure and alcohol and related topics. This was a chance for me to voice my own true opinion and not have any one criticize it. We also studied the Bible and our teachers helped me understand the true meanings and corrected my views that were previously influenced by other kids or by the media and movies.

I have very high values and morals when it comes to things like how to treat women and the respect that they deserve. I also respect my elders, but at the same time I challenge criminals and others who I do not agree with. It was and still is hard to not fall into the pits of society or peer pressure. When I was growing up ,though, I didn't like to be led around and told what to do by my peers. If they were going to do something illegal or damaging to a person's feelings or property, I had the willpower to stand up and leave. My sister Mandy played a very large role in how I treat others. She is overweight and it really hurt me to see her being picked on and made fun of, so I tried my hardest not to do the same as the cruel individuals did to her.

My past contributed to who I am today. I am comfortable with myself and how I live my life. I am now almost done with school and I have my own goals and plans. I will not change them just to make others happy. In life you have to treat others respectfully, but you can't put yourself through misery and heartache to make others happy. Sometimes you have to put yourself first and that is what I am going to do.I have some pretty high goals, and I am going to do my best to achieve them even if others disagree. Some of the things that I do and say society doesn't agree with, but I am who I am. You can take it or leave it.

Even though I am not going to change myself for others or do things I do not want to, I still have to take their feelings into consideration. For example, my girlfriend does not want me going into the Marines, but that has been a goal of mine for many years. I have every intention of going into the military, but I am staying around a little bit longer with my girlfriend to get to know her better and let her warm up to the idea of me in the military.

So I think that the way a person is raised and the morals and values that are instilled at a young age can last for a lifetime. If a person is strong-willed and has his own beliefs, society can't do or say much to change that.