As I sat here thinking about our long Memorial Day weekend, I started thinking of our early military and how we began in this land of the free and home of the brave.
In 1775, revolutionaries organized the 2nd Continental Congress and the Continental Army. Finally, after much writing and rewriting, the Declaration of Independence was signed by representatives from all 13 colonies but the War of Independence was not over yet. The fighting continued and nearly two years later, Spain, the Netherlands and France came to our aid and eventually it all ended with the signing of Treaty of Paris in 1783.
“Our nation’s flag doesn’t fly in the breeze or the wind. It flies with the last breath of those that gave their lives defending it.” I have to admit that this quote was at the bottom of Major John Johnston’s email signature. It really spoke to my heart and gave me the confidence that we are safer here in this country because of our defenders than in all of the rest of the world. It also made me think of the young Portage men and women who enter the Portage JROTC program every year and how it changes their lives forever.
I know this for a fact because looking back over these last five years, I find that many of the skills our youngest son learned in the JROTC helped him succeed and graduate from Purdue and will begin a new life of his own with his new wife.
He wrote in his senior paper for the PHS JROTC that he learned leadership skills, discipline, responsibility and civic pride.
While it has been almost two weeks since their Awards Night, I wanted to acknowledge what a great program this is for our young people in Portage and how blessed we have been to have instructors like Major Johnston and Master Sergeant Bowers.
Thirty six seniors will graduate out of this program this year, 14 of those seniors are either going into the service of their choice or a military academy. Fifteen are going on to a technical school or university. This is the largest amount of seniors in PHS history. Forty nine awards were given out to various cadets by different branches of the military, community service groups, government and department leaders. A record number of scholarships totaling almost $8,000 were given to some very deserving soon to be graduates.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about the cadets' volunteerism to their community. Every year, thousands of hours are put forth by these teens to help all of us in our daily lives. You call and they are there to help with anything you ask of them.
Sadly, this was Major Johnston’s last Awards Night as he is retiring at the end of the school year. He was presented with an award of his own by Portage Police Chief Troy Williams, a former Portage JROTC graduate and Marine. The JROTC Boosters also purchased a brick with his name for the Marine Corps Military Museum in Quantico, Virginia.
Bravo and ooh rah to all our Portage JROTC and to Major Johnston for his leadership and guidance of our young men and women. Thanks for your service and dedication to our community.
This column solely represents the writer