MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Growing up in Western Kentucky, Liam Brooks learned the value of hard work and dedication from watching his parents create their American dream.
“Where I’m from, we mostly farm tobacco, corn, and beans,” Brooks said. “Which is why my family was there.”
Brooks’s parents were both immigrants who came to America to raise their family.
“My mother is from Mexico and my father is from Eastern Europe,” Brooks said. “[She and my father] both escaped poverty and came to America, hoping to seek a future; it was harder than expected. They've worked their entire lives really hard to get where they are now.”
Brooks said his family struggled with homelessness and other hardships while growing up in Kentucky.
“I would always notice my parents coming home from work just beaten and exhausted,” Brooks said. “I'd see my mother cry and my father not eat for a day, and then go back into another harsh day just so we could survive.”
When Brooks was eight years old, his family lost their house due to being unable to pay for it and they were homeless for a year.
“We would go from sleeping in a car for a week to spending three days at a Super 8, or any cheap motel that they could get,” Brooks said.
After a year of struggling to make ends meet, the Brooks family was able to buy a house in Mayfield, Kentucky.
“We got a small house but there were only two bedrooms [for me and my four siblings], so for most of the time it was a very cramped space,” Brooks said. “My sisters got one bedroom and my parents had the other. My brothers and I would sleep in the living room.”
Brooks and his family did what they could to put food on the table and make money to pay the bills. As soon as he turned twelve, Brooks began working to help support the family.
“I did whatever I could, and neighbors would pay me something down the road,” Brooks said. “A family would want their yard raked. I’d do that with my brothers and I would also bring home food from school so we could eat.”
In 2016 an Enhanced Fujita 3 tornado with winds up to 140 mph struck Mayfield. The tornado injured many people and destroyed homes and businesses, including the Brooks’s home.
“[The tornado] flipped our house; we lost everything all over again – things that couldn’t be replaced were shattered and destroyed,” Brooks said. “It really hurt, after being homeless for a year then finally getting a house and then going day by day; skipping meals, working hard and then there’s always that hope the next day or a week later it will be better. Then for it to all be taken away, it destroys any optimism you have.”
Brooks didn’t want his life to continue this way so he planned on finding a solution to a better life; after graduating high school he made the decision to join the Marine Corps.
“I first found out about the Marine Corps through my grandpa's past, then my older brother would talk about it though he never followed through with it,” Brooks said. “I never thought of myself joining until one day I looked around and realized if I didn't do something to better myself I'm going to be like the people in the situation around me and continue the cycle.”
With the memories of his past and circumstances Brooks pushed on to join the Marine Corps for a better life for himself and to help those around him.
“I always keep it in my mind to keep pushing because it’s not for me it’s for those you care about,” Brooks said.
Even while in boot camp Brooks thought more of the people he was doing this for than himself. Despite the obstacles Brooks graduated recruit training and became a United States Marine.
“I thought very little of myself when I came to boot camp,” Brooks said. “I didn't care how much it hurt or how much stress I was under making it on time, pushing up through shortness of breath…I didn't care, I just thought, “I can make it better for those that I left behind.” So, when I go back home [to Kentucky], I can give my family something back for everything that they've given me.”