This morning I attended the 7th Annual Fallen Heroes Ceremony at Pompano Beach High School in Florida, an event put on by the school’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) Cadet Battalion.The students actually placed a flag with the name of every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine lost during our war against Islamic terrorism. The incredible sight of some 6000 flags across the school courtyard brings tears to your eyes.
This was my fourth time attending the event and it always brings back fond memories of my experience as a high school JROTC Cadet at Henry Grady High in Atlanta from 1976-1979. At a time when there are so many negative stories about our young men and women in high school about bullying and other shameful behavior, it does the heart good to see these young Cadets proudly in uniform.
One of the special treats was to watch several Cadets portray the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. These select Cadets actually guard a replica tomb during the ceremony. Their precision and military bearing is impeccable.
I was one of the invited speakers and took just a few moments to remember the immortal words spoken 150 years ago this month at a place called Gettysburg. It was there that President Abraham Lincoln also spoke of the service and sacrifice of fallen heroes, those men who had given the “last full measure of devotion.”What was also special about the morning was to see the legacy left by some local World War II veterans in attendance, the Greatest Generation. They had the pleasure of witnessing the next generation of American heroes, and for those young men and women participating, they saw history.
At a time when many in America feel all seems lost, I hold fast to the words from a song by the band The Call, “I Still Believe.” When I got back home I listened to that song again and became even more “highly resolved that these honored dead shall not have died in vain.” I still believe “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth.”
I humbly ask that as we celebrate our veterans, we all resolve the same and that regardless of the disappointment who now occupies the White House, we all still believe. That is our legacy to pass on to those Cadets from Pompano Beach High and to those whom they honored this morning.