Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Send in the (Young) Marines

There’s this group I want to plug that, if you live in Northern New Jersey, you’ve probably never heard of – the Young Marines.

The Young Marines is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. The group promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members and focuses on character building, leadership, and promoting a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

The Young Marines is the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps' youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts. In 1958, the first Young Marine Unit formed was in Waterbury, Conn., by members of the Brass City Detachment of the Marine Corps League for their sons to march in a community parade.

A year later, the Young Marines program was opened up to the general public. Within a year, they had grown to 300 members and 20 adult instructors. The Marine Corps officially chartered the program in 1965 and in 1974, was chartered as a subsidiary of the Marine Corps League. Membership was exteded to girls in 1975.

"Strengthening the lives of America's youth" is the Young Marines' Motto.

The Young Marines emphasize physical fitness, discipline, and moral leadership. They hold camp-outs the way the Boy Scouts do, teaching survival skills, but Young Marines also perform physical exercises and marching drills. Their manual on marching drills is quite impressive – marching band directors, take note.

The mission the Young Marines have set out for their youngsters is what’s most impressive though. That’s quite a task, battling drugs in our culture. Saying no to drugs requires all the discipline, loyalty, courage, and stamina of a Marine. It’s almost as daunting as taking a beach head on D-Day – and quite as dangerous. Seriously.

The manuals (there are three) stress education and resilience. Refusing drugs, the Young Marines tell their recruits, is somewhat like being on guard duty. If someone doesn’t give the password, you are not to talk to them or engage them or abandon your post.

Young Marines are educated not only about the various types of drugs, but how drug dealers inculcate the young into purchasing them. This is dangerous territory for the Young Marines, who are, after all, only kids. Adults who’ve tried to thwart drug dealers have gone to an early grave.

The Young Marine stress individual resilience and moral fortitude. They tell their members that they may find themselves alone, but that they shouldn’t fear to do the right thing. No drugs are worth the social accolades you’d receive for partaking in them.

Small wonder there are no Young Marine groups in the northern New Jersey area, nor on Long Island. The closest chapter is in White Plains, N.Y. There’s also a group far to the south, in Vineland, N.J. I had to hear about the Young Marines from someone in Kennebec Valley, Maine.

Many of the chapters are located in rural areas near military bases. Doubtless, many of these young recruits are from military families. There are no military bases in northern New Jersey, hence, no Young Marines. Considering how rampant drug use is in our urbanized state, we could use a few good Marines.

We have Boy Scouts, who are wonderful. They’re bravely fighting the cultural war. Go, Boy Scouts! But when it comes to drugs, send in the Young Marines!

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