Is anyone more proud of a new soldier, sailor, or Marine than their parents? Probably not, and that pride that a parent feels for their new troop supersedes the messy labels we put on step-parents and step-children, and in this case, it even blows right past ex-husbands and ex-wives. Today we salute Private Lauren Dougan of the United States Marine Corps. Lauren graduated from boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina last November. She is now in Camp Pendleton, California for Ordnance training, because Lauren is going to be in the Infantry. Lauren’s Step Mother Kristina Tancredi sent me this salute. She is incredibly proud of Lauren. She says “Lauren is the big sister to my 12-year-old son Jesse. Even though I divorced her dad 2 years ago, Lauren will never be my ‘ex- step daughter’. She is a daughter to me and always will be.” Lauren was a top-level gymnast growing up, and Kristina was her coach. She retired from gymnastics at 15, and a few years later, she saw a pull-up contest at the County Fair that was being put on by the Marine Corps. Lauren and her then 9-year-old brother stepped up to challenge each other. Jesse was able to do 14 pull-ups, but Lauren the ex-gymnast had him beat with 21 pull ups. That was all the recruiters needed to see from Lauren, and they knew she was meant to be a Marine. Now Pvt. Dougan is off on her new military life, and her family could not be prouder.