Young Marines travel to Washington for Inauguration
Fifteen Young Marines from Prescott and surrounding areas spent nearly a year fundraising to travel to Washington, D.C., during inauguration week. Ranging in age from 11-17, the Young Marines who made the journey had never been to the East Coast, and some had never flown in a plane.
The Young Marines were invited to lodge for the week at the Aspin Hill Christian Church in Aspin Hill, Md., where church members made them welcome.
"This was just the best trip," said Victoria Bostwick, adjutant for the unit and an adult volunteer and chaperone. "The kids had a ball, and we couldn't have packed any more in our busy schedule. It certainly was worth the fundraising the kids did in order to make this dream trip to our nation's capitol a reality."
The official theme for the 2013 inauguration was "Faith in America's Future," commemorating the United States' perseverance and unity, marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and, in 1863, the placement of the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome.
The Young Marine began their first day by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Va.
As part of a celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King on Saturday, Jan. 19, the Young Marines represented their organization by staffing a booth at the National Day of Service tent on the National Mall. They provided information about the Young Marines and offered advice on youth physical fitness.
For the rest of their week, the Young Marines went to Gettysburg, Pa., to tour the Civil War cemetery and battleground, visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia, had a personal tour from a U.S. Marine Major and instructor at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and visited many of the Smithsonian museums.
In addition, they enjoyed a private tour of the "Ready Room" of Marine One, the President's helicopter.
A high point was visiting the national headquarters of the Young Marines and meeting Mike Kessler, national director and CEO of the Young Marines.
"It's always fun having our Young Marines visit the nation's capitol and experience all that the National Capitol Region has to offer," Kessler said. "The history aside, the Central Arizona Young Marines were here during the Presidential Inauguration. It's such an amazing opportunity for these youngsters (and oldsters) that you don't want to blink for fear of missing something. They represented our program in a manner that should make Arizona proud."
The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c(3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.
Since the Young Marines began in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to more than 300 units with 10,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Germany, Japan and affiliates in a host of other countries.
For more information, visit the official website at: http://www.YoungMarines.com.