Bird's Eye View

Portage JROTC revolutionary in independence

2012-06-27T00:00:00Z Portage JROTC revolutionary in independenceBy Robin Wilkening Times Correspondent
June 27, 2012 12:00 am  • 

As I sat here thinking about our impending Independence Day holiday, I connected our early military and our allies of the time for that independence in this country that we all enjoy.

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 2 years later, Spain, the Netherlands and France came to our aid. Eventually it all ended with the signing of Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Certainly Great Britain and King George had lost a crown jewel in the British Empire. From Maine to Florida, and as far west as the Mississippi River was all ours - no more British rule from afar.

Clearly, “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”. Or, in this case, giving us, our independence. I have to admit that this quote was at the bottom of Major John Johnston’s, Portage JROTC instructor, 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 planet. 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 4 years our youngest son was in college, I find that many of the skills he learned in the JROTC helped him succeed and graduate from Purdue with a double major and an honor society member in two fields.

He wrote in his high school senior paper for the JROTC that he learned leadership skills, discipline, responsibility and civic pride - all qualities that would help him endure and excel at Purdue University.

While it has been almost a month since school has ended and even longer since their awards night, I wanted to acknowledge what a great program this is for our children in Portage and how blessed we are to have instructors like Major Johnston and Master Sergeant Bowers of that program.

Out of about 200 cadets this last school year, 30 graduated to go on to bigger and better things. Fourteen of those seniors were either going into the service of their choice or a military academy and 10 were going on to a technical school or university. Forty-nine awards were given out to various cadets by different branches of the military, community service groups and government and department leaders. Scholarships totaling 16 were given to some very deserving soon to be graduates. There was also a special award given to Michael Berta as the Hero of the MCJROTC Community Service Award.

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.

Bravo to all our Portage JROTC. Thanks for your service and dedication to our community.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

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