The practice that seems to have lost it’s underlying purpose; but, it can be restored
Rain falls on the ground and mud is flushed upon their combat boots, the sun peeking through a hazed cloud shedding an illuminating light down on a collection of tall standing troops. As time elapses, those who went too soon are remembered with honor by their country and for their heroism, while others come back home in one piece, physically, and hopefully, mentally as well. When walking through a public place, people stare as they pass by: some thanking them for their service, others not knowing what to say, most thankful that they have the courage they themselves don’t possess. These are the men and women that we need to look up to. These are the men and women who protect and serve our country for the greater good. These are the men and women we as a society should appreciate and imitate: courageously selfless.
Many states across the country have Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs in schools, as well as many high schools in Texas, but Heath isn’t one of them. JROTC’s mission, “To Motivate Young People to be Better Citizens”, is the guide post for the program’s success.
On their website, usarmyjrotc.com, it says, “each military service must have a JROTC program to instill in students in United States secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.”
Student’s can join this high school program as early as 17 years of age, where they go to a ‘boot camp’ on the weekend once a month. In attending these workouts, students and individuals have the opportunity to earn money that reaches hundreds of dollars for ten hours of work. If someone can get one of their friends to join as well, they begin to earn more money for their recommendation. The average amount of money paid to individuals for their weekend workout is more than many students can make working a 10 hour shift at a local fast food joint. So, not only are people learning a part of what goes into serving the country, but earning pay as well.
“[With a JROTC program at our school] students could learn they have more opportunities to reach out and attain a college education that can get paid for,” said Madisyn Mammen, senior.
Cameron Johnson, senior, said, “My family doesn’t have much money, and the career I want to go into is quite expensive, so the program is an opportunity with wonderful benefits for my future.”
Though Rockwall-Heath High School is merely a small cloud of dust in the galaxy and may not have very much of an impact on anything in comparison to the rest of the world, it is a prominent fixture in our community that has the opportunity to influence the course of many lives. With this capacity, comes the responsibility to teach and inform adolescents, ranging in average age from 14-18, about life options and the many different routes their lives could possibly take.
“I transferred from the CFBISD district this year, and we had [J]ROTC over there. It always interested me, because of the impact you can begin to make on your professional career from a young age,” said Mammen.
“[A JROTC program] could give many students opportunities they had never considered before,” said Johnson.
Educating young people also comes with the responsibility to help curate serving people who give back to the community: people who find joy in giving and not receiving: a concept that sometimes is hard to see in the day to day life at Rockwall-Heath. It can be hard to comprehend as to why we have student organizations ranging from NHS to the Rice Club, but there is not a JROTC program offered at our school, where students learn the true meaning of service.
“[I feel that] the school does not inform students of the opportunities they have, and really pushes more traditional pathways, rather than alternative solutions to our personal issues [like careers],” said Johnson.
Over the years, we as a school have congratulated ourselves for being a very ‘others serving’ campus. And while we have programs like PALS and a food pantry that help people within our community, we are lacking a program that could be available to everyone who wants to do a little more. Many student’s at this school have family who have served and continue to do so. Offering a program that would help students follow in their family’s footsteps, could not only help them feel more connected, but help other students respect our countries service men and women more as well.
“My grandfather and step-brother are both [affiliated] to the military. My grandfather is a retired marine, and my step-brother is active duty in the U.S. Army [so, I’ve been interested in the JROTC program],” said Johnson.
While it is apparent that being informed on topics is an individual persons responsibility, it is also a school’s job to teach and inform students about opportunities that are available and at their disposal. Heath promotes service. But over the years, ‘service hours’ have become a means to attaining a chord at the end of high school years, wearing it around our necks upon graduation night. Service hours for clubs has become a means of getting something we want and not always helping other people out of the goodness of our hearts. And that, that is not what true service is all about.
“It’s about becoming a more respectful better human being overall,” said Mammen.
A JROTC program would only bring the community we live in perspective of what it really means to serve. People serve and volunteer because it is their duty. It is their duty to give back, it is their duty to protect one’s own, and it is their duty to be selfless for a fragment in time. Every school should have a program where students can become involved in the country’s military services if they wish to do so, ours included. What better way to create a well-rounded individual than to show them the kind of selfless spirit that instills pride in one’s country. There is no plausible reason Heath does not have their own Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. Maybe we could get the ball rolling on implementing one, don’t you think?