Sacrificing Summer


Photo provided by Max Martin.

Max Martin will be attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2020.

Kathryn Sweeter, Feature Editor

For many high school seniors, the summer before college is occupied with friends and family, going to the lake and having a part time job. However, not everyone gets to live this lifestyle this summer. Students who are joining the army, navy and military have a summer that looks very different.

Max Martin, a senior at LHS, will be attending The U.S. Military at West Point this coming fall. Before getting accepted into this prestigious academy, Martin had to go through a complex process of application.

“For the academy, there are parts that are rather normal like essays, ACT scores and letters of recommendation, but then I also had to complete a physical fitness test and undergo a medical review to make sure I’m medically qualified,” said Martin. “Then for the nomination, it involved … a 20 minute interview in front of a nomination board that includes military members and some civilian leaders.”

During the application process, Martin had to compete against many other students to claim his spot at the four-year federal service academy.

“I [had] to compete against 30 of the top students in SD for the nomination,” said Martin. “Then once I got that, it was up to the academy to admit [me]. It is a lot of work and they go through everything about you… and it definitely makes you ask yourself if this is really for you.”

Most LHS students have until the middle of August to enjoy their summer break. However, Martin and his fellow classmates at West Point only have until the end of June, when they report for Reception Day. He will have to sacrifice objects most teens can not fathom living without.

“Starting on June 29, I won’t have my phone for six weeks and will be able to make about one or two calls home to my family the whole time,” said Martin. “I will be able to accept [and] send some letters so my communication will be shot back to [the] 1980s.”

While others are relaxing by the pool or lake, or maybe going on a nice leisurely jog or walk, academy students will be facing intense training that is far from relaxing.

“This summer I have to go through… Beast Barracks, which is essentially basic training that is run by the academy,” said Martin. “My days will start at 5:30 a.m. and I’ll be yelled at a lot.  It’ll start with physical training then throughout the day there are just a lot of rules and yelling.”

Besides the brutal, demanding physical training, Martin will complete training that will prepare him for real instances he may encounter later in the military.

“One day we have to go into a little house or shed and they release tear gas and we have to take our masks off,” said Martin. “At the end of the training, we have a 12 mile march in full battle gear.”

For many, this job title description does not suit them. But for Martin, the decision to attend the Military Academy was an easy one. Martin’s decision was finalized due to the opportunities for his future that the academy offered.

“I knew I wanted to be in the military because I fully believe it is my moral obligation to serve,” said Martin. “Not because I like violence… but I love America and I want to protect it. In order to protect and sustain the country we have, I needed to join the Army. I wanted to do the best job I could and so I needed to become a strong military leader, which only happens at one place – and that is a military academy.”

Although going through four years at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point will be a challenge nonetheless, Martin is ready to see who he will be after his experience there.

“It has world-class academics, a strong athletic competitive culture and builds the strongest leaders in the world,” said Martin. “It will be a challenge, but I know it will shape me into the person and leader I want to be.”