By Jug Varner

Here in The Woodlands, TX, our high school graduating class pulled off somewhat of a coup this year. Nine members of that class received appointments to service academies… five to the Army at West Point, and two each to the Navy at Annapolis and the Air Force at Colorado Springs.

Nine students from the same class may or may not be a record. Perhaps there may be military prep schools with better numbers, but this seems highly remarkable for a non-military high school. This is one with excellent academic standards, and many offers for scholarships coming from the nation’s leading universities.

I think it underscores a new awareness and appreciation of the military by today’s youth. The catalyst likely may have been the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters, followed by the War on Terrorism, but also the growing reputation of the academies for an all-around education and meaningful service to the nation is an important factor.

Remember how altruistic most of us were about serving our country when we were their age? - particularly in a time of national emergency. Time and culture may change, but deep inside is a core of American patriotism that makes us willing to lay it on the line when the chips are down. There will always be opposition to military service in some quarters - whose voices are loud, but numbers are low - but we have reason to be proud of our American youth, the leaders of tomorrow.

Overall, I'd say our future will be in good hands!