As I wrote my name and the date my hand shook horribly. Id heard horror stories about getting crossed. There were many whose hands shook like mine did that night, in front of our peers and our parents. I was nervous, clammy, tense, and nauseous and this was just the beginning. Not even an hour into this week long tradition of 144 years. I attended Kemper Military School in Missouri. Anyone who had been there under a year, or 2 full semesters, were considered new boys. For those who had been there a full year, they were considered and labeled Old Boys and at which time you could attain an Old Boy Cross. This particular military school had females too, seperate barracks, so the terms New Boy and Old Boy encompassed both genders. There were meticulous, harsh rules for New Boys to follow. For example, while a New Boy you could not touch the table at breakfast, lunch or dinner until you became an Old Boy, therefore the entire year was spent with sergeants yelling when we could and couldn't eat with numerous salt and pepper shakers thrown at heads, hands and faces. Hell, one kid named 'Sutton' took an old metal napkin holder to the dome. New Boys had to walk in certain lines and against walls in the dorms. Some were limited to 30 second showers, and some got the New Boy Shower which was scrubbing themselves with a Brillo Pad if they didnt like the way you drilled with weapons or some shit that day. You just had to stay on your shit. It was like Full Metal Jacket on steroids. Actually, one of the Child's Play movie's was filmed at a military school and it was this one. The Old Boy cross itself is a tiny 1.5" x 1.5" long cross with each of the 4 ends a ½ " wide. On the ends of the cross were the letters G for God, C for Country, S for School and H for Honor. They are worn on your Class B uniform shirt in front of your heart once you become an Old Boy. On the ends of the vertical piece of the cross are extremely sharp pins that pin the cross to the shirt by way of backings which sandwich the shirt between the backings and the cross. The crossings lasted a full week from when you signed your name on Friday night. Getting Crossed as it was called consisted of pinning the cross to a white cotton T-shirt and standing at parade rest against a wall. A group of Old Boys, usually your peers throughout your first year, pushed your chest against the wall and hands on your head to keep you from softening the blows. Then they took turns digging, scraping, cutting, tearing, ripping, mangling and gashing chunks of flesh from my ribcage. I vividly remember the last crossing I got. It was a Thursday night, one more night before it was done, and my platoon sergeant, a huge muscle-ridden of a guy, pushed the cross in my ribcage with so much force that I went to pull my shirt away and the cross remained stuck in my ribcage. I will never forget the suction, fluid-filled sounds those pins made when exiting my flesh. I will not allow myself to forget them. I will not allow myself to forget that without some kind of pain there is no sense of accomplishment. We all have to suffer pain and hardships, whether voluntary or involuntary, to help us define who we are.