JROTC cadets busy on Veterans Day
Cadets discuss responsibility, duties
The JROTC cadets at the Scott Regional Technology Center will travel far and wide to help lead Veterans Day school programs on Thursday and Friday.
The cadets will split into three groups on Friday.
Over the two days, Col. Chad Sparks will lead one group to a morning assembly at 9 a.m. at Cassville High School, at 12:45 p.m. at Southwest High School, at 1:30 p.m. at Exeter High School, and at 2:15 p.m. at Purdy High School.
Another group under Sgt. Major Garret Spencer will head to Miller High School for a 9 a.m. assembly, at 10:30 a.m. at Aurora High School, and at 1 p.m. at Billings High School. Another group is due to participate at 9 a.m. at Mt. Vernon High School.
A third group of female cadets will leave with Scott Tech administrative assistant Pam Wormington for a program at the Monett Walmart at 10 a.m., at Pierce City High School at 1 p.m., at Cassville Health Care Center at 2 p.m. and at 2:45 p.m. at the main EFCO plant in Monett.
Participating in color guard, presenting the U.S. flag in front of a crowd, can seem like a daunting challenge. Each drill member finds ways to focus.
For Sam Masri, a junior from Monett High School and the son of Fares and Lauren Masri, serving as the company commander provides leadership challenges, as well as technical obligations.
"Sometimes, it depends on the crowd," Masri said. "I get a little nervous in front of a lot of veterans, particularly if I mess it up. Once you start doing it, you realize the attention is not on you but on the flag. When you shift your attention to that, you become less nervous."
Tyler Wallace, a Cassville High School senior and daughter of Amanda Wallace, the color guard experience carries a lot of emotion with it.
"Being part of a program means a lot to me," Wallace said. "I feel proud. It's a privilege to be around veterans because of everything they've done for our country. I'll be one someday too."
There's a game face, a focus that each color guard member has to find for the task.
"You have to keep your bearing and a straight face, even if you mess it up," Masri said. "A presentation is usually only for 5-10 minutes. There's a little bit of that going into every presentation."
For Wallace, it starts earlier.
"Once I put on the uniform, it starts then," Wallace said, who also serves as battalion commander. "I try to be respectful and serious the while time I'm in it. It sticks with me as long as I have it on. I try to act that way all the time. I want to be deserving to wear it."
Masri has commanded color guard teams since last year. He noted team members definitely look to him for leadership.
"I have to display confidence," Masri said. "I'm basically just getting into a more patriotic mindset. We're carrying this flag. It's a good opportunity, a responsibility when you present it. You've got to take that pretty seriously. You're representing the program and the flag. You have to keep in mind the responsibility you have."
Wallace reaches into her memories for the strength to deliver the right message.
"I think about the veterans and how they serve our country, and how important the flag is to our country," she said. "It gives me that strength and encouragement to push through. As battalion commander, everyone is my responsibility. It's stressful enough being on the color guard. Once you get started, it gets easier."
Participating in a color guard is an experience both cadets would recommend.
"I've told a lot of new one-hour [cadets], 'Come to color guard practice,'" Masri said. "It's a great opportunity. It's a responsibility to carry and present the flag that men and women have fought and died for."
"If they have that respect for their country and the courage to be part of it, if they're passionate about it like I am, they can do it," Wallace said. "I have a high respect for anyone who has been a part of serving our country. We are pretty much the ones who make it known what a great country we live in."