Editor: I am Young Marine/Pfc. Andrew Lewis. I am part of the North Valley Young Marines unit, and I recently graduated the recruit training stage of the Young Marines as the honor graduate. The Young Marines program is for children who are 8 years or older through high school graduation. The program teaches leadership, teamwork and self-discipline. It also promotes the idea of living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. I want to talk about my recruit training and how I got here. I started recruit training thinking I was just doing this so that I could have something to do. I thought, “Hey, my parents are both former active-duty Marines and I have nothing to do, so why not?” I had no idea how much this program and training was going to mean to me. Having completed recruit training, I can see the inner strength and confidence I am developing. When I earned the title of Young Marine, I became a part of something bigger than myself. When I got home the night of recruit graduation, I was talking with my stepfather, who is a veteran sergeant in the Marine Corps, and he told me something that I really had not thought of before. “When you earn that title, nobody can take it from you.” During the first day of recruit training, I wanted to give up, but I pushed through and eventually made it to encampment. I pushed through the first day of encampment, but then when we went to bed I started crying. It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. On the second day, I kept pushing through, and when I got home, I was as proud and happy as I have ever been. I am looking forward to learning all the things that the Young Marines teach, such as marksmanship, leadership skills, public speaking, self-discipline and wilderness skills. I hope this letter may encourage others to join the Young Marines as well. Andrew Lewis Anthem
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