BILLINGS – Montana has long had a strong tradition of military service.
The commitment to country makes up the fabric of the state which has one of the highest number of military veterans per capita.
It is that history of sacrifice that inspires one group of young men and women, all between the ages of eight and 18, to serve.
“I plan on serving in the United States Marine Corps,” said Tyger Harris.
Harris is one of the members of the Billings Young Marines, a group that emphasizes the importance of the discipline, history, and tradition of military service.
“My brother is in the military,” said Brennan Sunderland, who has been a part of the group for a year and a half. “If he has to get up and do stuff every day, why should I be exempt from that? Even at a young age you should still be getting up and doing things around your community to help out.”
On Monday, the Billings unit presented the flags at the Terrace Gardens Memorial Day ceremony.
“People chose you and our program to honor veterans who have served and died and it’s very humbling to be a part of that,” said Sunderland.
The unit is made up of both boys and girls between the ages of eight and18. They meet once a week for drills and training, and then participate in different events throughout the year.
“These kids are amazing,” said Tyler Harris, the executive officer of the Billings Young Marines. “We do everything from dumping trash at some of these events to raising colors at events like this one.”
Harris said the training the kids go through puts them in a position to succeed, whether it is in military service or in civilian life.
“We’ve had kids from this unit go on to West Point, the Air Force Academy, all branches of the military,” said Harris. “Different colleges, some go right out to the workforce. When these kids get done with this program they are so far ahead of their peers it’s not even funny. It’s not even fair.”
Click here for more information on the program or to sign up.
-Samantha Sullivan reporting for MTN News