Many students of Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon, New Hampshire, begin class with that yell every day, sometimes delivering it in military uniform. They are cadets in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, JROTC, a U.S. Army-sponsored program. Its goal is not to turn children into soldiers, but to motivate them to become better citizens by teaching them military values Americans admire: service, honor, skill and leadership.
Curious about the place of the military in American culture, Dutch photographer and writer Ellen Kok followed the cadets for over two years. What do marching in formation, doing push-ups, shining uniform buttons, firing air rifles and addressing each other with “Sergeant” or “Captain” do for young people? Does it help them to cope with the challenges life throws at them, at home and in school? And will the Wildcat Battalion manage to keep its gold star of Honor Unit with Distinction?