Hickory High School JROTC Serves Honor Flight Veterans in Washington D.C..
The recent field trip to Washington, D.C. was much more than visiting some of the nation’s greatest historical sites, memorials, and museums, according to Lieutenant Colonel Channing Moose, U.S. Army, Retired and JROTC senior instructor at Hickory High School.
“Five of our cadets, including Dylan Cunningham (sophomore), Haley McCrary (junior), Megan Gignac (senior), Eric Betancourt (freshman), and Josue Cardenas (freshman) conducted their service learning project with the goal of serving and honoring our WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans,” said Moose. The HHS cadets partnered with Honor Flight Northern Colorado for two days and served 124 veterans from Colorado and Wyoming.
Honor Flight Network, a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices, covers the air flight for veterans to Washington DC in order to visit memorials built in honor of their service to the United States. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day. The chance to express thanks to these brave men and women is running out—and the Hickory High cadets took every opportunity to say “thank you” and “welcome home” to all of the veterans they met during this service trip.
“What a privilege it was to serve our veterans, especially from our greatest generation!” said Moose. The students were able to meet and talk to soldiers representing the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. These soldiers are considered to be some of the most elite in service, said Moose.
The HHS JROTC cadets served and connected with the veterans by helping them with their baggage, loading and unloading busses, physically assisting them and pushing them in wheelchairs at the memorials. “What better way is there for our students to learn, experience and understand the meaning of our nation’s memorials than to care for our veterans and listen to their stories,” said Moose. “Our cadets and teachers who served the veterans on this trip were all deeply impacted and moved by the experience.”
During the service learning project, Hickory High’s JROTC cadets visited the WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Iwo Jima Memorial, Air Force Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Changing of the Guard, Washington Monument, and the White House. Students wrote in journals about their experiences and what they learned; and upon their return to Hickory, they shared their experiences with their peers.
“I mostly enjoyed meeting Sergeant Davenport who serves as the Sergeant of the Guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” said Cadet Miguel Betancourt. “I learned from Sergeant Davenport that if you put your mind to something you can achieve any task.” Betancourt shared that, one day, he hopes to follow in Sergeant Davenport’s steps.
“I loved talking to the various veterans and understanding the sacrifices they made for our freedom,” said Cadet Dylan Cunningham.