You sign up when you’re 17 and go to basic training after high school because you have to have a high school diploma now to get in the military. I’ve considered college, but if I would join the Marine Corps, they would give me the G.I. Bill, which would give me a pretty good sum to go to college.
Today, they are high school students. Just typical young adults getting their required education.
But in the coming years, they will trade in the casual clothes and textbooks for camouflage and fire arms.
“I just want to serve my country. I want to give back to my country for everything that they’ve given me,” said Cameron Conley, a junior at Hannibal High School in Missouri. “I live with a Marine. My step-dad’s a Marine, and that’s some big motivation.”
And it was that motivation which inspired Conley to start the Young Patriots Club at his school.
The club is for patriots to get together and volunteer time. You don’t have to have an interest in joining the Army –– even though most of the members do –– you just have to be a young patriot.
“We basically go out and work with the community, do a lot of the D.A.R.E. dances. Fishing For Freedom is a program we’re doing right now for veterans that were wounded. We also work with the wounded warrior project,” said Jacob Muehring, a sophomore, who wants to be a Marine. “I’m planning on signing up next year, it’s called the delayed entry program. You sign up when you’re 17 and go to basic training after high school because you have to have a high school diploma now to get in the military. I’ve considered college, but if I would join the Marine Corps, they would give me the G.I. Bill, which would give me a pretty good sum to go to college.
“Not a lot of money out there for me, and I’ve always wanted to serve my country. My family’s been in the Marine Corps, so I feel like I should join. That’s what I’ve wanted to do since about seventh grade.”
“It doesn’t sound like much, but keeping the peace with those kids is a lot to handle,” Conley said of the D.A.R.E. dances. “Fishing For Freedom is a program that takes vets of Afghanistan and Iraq out on the river for a day of fishing or a weekend of fishing.”
Junior Lance Flynn is looking forward to serving in the U.S. Army when his high school career is over. Several family members of his have served in the military, including his father and uncle, who were in the Air Force.
“It’s a great thing to do, I think. There’s a lot of respect that goes into it for those people, and right now is a time when our nation needs people to step up and do something like (join the military), and I’m more than happy to do that,” Flynn said. “One, I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s not something easy, it’s not for everybody, and I might find out I can’t do it — I hope to God that’s not the case. I’m looking forward to that challenge and having the ability to serve. I want to be in there at least 20 years. It’ll be great to be 38 and be able to retire.”
Page 2 of 2 - The group meets every Tuesday morning and, thanks to speeches and experiences shared by Army Sgt. Isaac Bos, the members get a first-hand look and understanding as to what being involved in service — military or not — is all about.
There is one particular part of their future the three young men are a little weary about. That’s basic training.
“I’ve heard it’s pretty rough, but I feel like I can do it if I really try,” Muehring said. “It’s really what I want to do.”
“It’s just a lot of work and a lot of effort has to go into it,” Flynn added.