Teen Spotlight: Marching forward | AspenTimes.com

Teen Spotlight: Marching forward

Joining the military forges a path to the future

Bo Melton
Special to The Snowmass Sun
Bo Melton
Photo by Michele Cardamone

My name is Bo Melton. I am 18 years old, and I just graduated from Aspen High School. In less than a month, I will be joining the military forces.

My choice mostly came from wanting to better my future and make sure I will have a sustainable life, which starts with the ability to go to college. Tuition, room and board are necessary and expensive, and right now, I don’t have the sufficient funds for those costs.

Students celebrate at the end of the Aspen High School graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 4, 2022, inside the Benedict Music Tent in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Most students at Aspen High School move straight onto college. In last year’s class of 2021 exit survey, of the 109 students who responded to a question about post-grad plans, 102 of them — accounting for 93.6% of respondents — indicated that they were heading to a four-year college immediately after high school, according to results that were presented at a Board of Education meeting last September. Aspen High pushes students toward college.

I often feel surrounded by people who seem to have most things they want handed to them without much effort. It makes it hard to live in an environment where I have needed to fight for what I want and advocate for myself my entire life. So deciding to join the military forces wasn’t the hard part. The hard part came the two days after I signed up to give my body to the Army, when Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

My decision to join held strong, and I still wanted to continue forward with my future as planned. But witnessing history unfold made me nervous and scared, not for myself but my cousin, Ryan.

He joined the military forces over four years ago, and he is now in Germany with other U.S. troops waiting for their next command.

I worry for him; he is a person in my life who matters. Ryan put his life on the line for the American people who live in this country. It’s hard to reconcile that with my experience in Aspen, where some people are ungrateful or do not recognize how easy it is to have everything handed to them.

I am disappointed that some teenagers can be self-righteous or fail to understand the difference between people who need to make hard choices to secure their future and people who will never need to worry about being in harm’s way or working hard to get food on the table.

If you are one of the people who fight to survive in this small town, I congratulate you. I have met many people in this small town that have noticed others struggling and are willing to help. I have also noticed people who will see a person in pain or need and pretend they are not there; they act as if they believe they are better than others.

I am a man who knows what he needs to do. I am a man who knows what will happen if I don’t. I am a man who will not let petty or unneeded things get in the way of my future.

What is my destiny? Short term, it’s college — an accessible education that the military forces will congratulate me on after spending over four years serving them. But that isn’t genuinely free education, now, is it? I will be going into intensive training to become a man capable of many things for the armed forces. My life will be used and possibly taken, but I am willing to do so because that is what I need to do for a better life.

Long term, it’s law school. My ultimate plan is to become a military lawyer. And to do that, I need experience. Starting in the military will benefit my future.

I want to thank the people who have helped me through my journey into adulthood. To the people who would still like to look down on me, I challenge you to consider the challenges and sacrifices some of us must make for our futures. I’m happy to leave; I am sad to go, but as I said in my senior quote: I’ll figure it out on the road less traveled.

Bo Melton graduated last week with the Aspen High School Class of 2022. He wrote for the Skier Scribbler student newspaper and plans to join the military now that he has graduated.