ZION, Ill. (WLS) -- Thirty-five students in the Chicago area took part in an enlistment ceremony with the U.S. Army. They and other students around the country were led in a live oath by a NASA astronaut at the International Space Station.
Zion-Benton Township High School is an institution with a military tradition. After all, many families that send their kids here are connected to the Great Lakes Naval Station just a few miles away. Two to five percent of the graduating class enters the military, but Wednesday's enlistment ceremony was completely unprecedented.
Some 13 leaders adorned in the logos of their chosen branch - many not old enough to vote - took a step into their future led by a mentor in space. Many want to carry on a family tradition.
"I am a young patriot, I have always loved my country," said Brian Young, an 18-year-old Marine Corps recruit. "Ever since I saw my father in his uniform I knew I wanted to do something military related."
"I want to do something that nobody else in my family has done," said Brent Henry, an 18-year-old Marine Corps recruit. "They're all army, navy, and a few air force."
They were joined by 1,000 recruits nationwide taking their cues in real time from astronaut Andrew Morgan aboard the International Space Station, who counseled all to fight off any urge to quit.
"Suppress that and drive on," Morgan said. "I experienced that multiple times in my career and it has turned out to be extremely rewarding. I can't stress that enough: things that are worth doing are difficult."
"If the need ever arises, I would most definitely go and fight for our country," said Sedmarc Rodriguez, 18.
"I feel great, I feel really excited very hyped for the future," said Natalie Rosas, 17. "I'm doing this because I have a great passion for protecting people."
From here, these seniors finish high school and then step into their military life full time this summer, starting in many cases with boot camp.
Zion-Benton Township High School students take part in historic enlistment ceremony