How has JROTC prepared me to be a better citizen of the United States Of America?
Duty, Honor, Country. Before entering the JROTC program at Belaire High School, I did not realize the true significance of these values on the American way of life. However, based on a friend's recommendation, I read The Long Gray Line by Rick Atkinson. This novel portrays three classmates' journey through the United States Military Academy, Vietnam and the struggles endured upon their return to the United States. Furthermore, the novel highlights important generals and noted speeches. As I read the acceptance speech by General Douglas MacArthur for the Thayer Award in 1962, I became overwhelmed with emotion upon reading the following excerpt, "'Duty,' 'Honor,' 'Country'-those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you want to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn." Consequently, I enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Belaire High School and vowed to adopt the American values of "Duty, Honor and Country." From that moment on, these fundamental values became a guide by which I would live my life.
"Duty is the sense of obligation which motivates one to do, to the best of his ability, what is expected of him in any assigned position or situation."  As a beginning JROTC cadet, I quickly advanced to a leadership position, Squad Leader. After my freshman year, I advanced through various leadership positions; namely, JROTC Drill Team, Color Guard, Delta Company Commander, Color Guard Assistant Commander, Drill Team Assistant Commander, Bravo Company Commander and Color Guard Commander. Through these positions, I realized the importance of my leadership abilities to my fellow cadets. My cadets depended on my guidance, drill instruction and time management skills. I realized that these invaluable skills could also be utilized in other areas of my school and community. As a freshman, I was elected to the positions of Freshman Class Treasurer and Student Government Representative. The value of "Duty" learned through JROTC was instrumental in my success as a leader of the freshman class. Another organization in which I became involved was the Cultural Heritage Panel, an organization where small groups of people go out into the community to fight against racism, bigotry and other forms of prejudice. As I became aware of the array of various cultures present in my school, community, nation and world, I felt the sense of obligation as a JROTC officer to interact with these cultures through volunteer activities. Through the local volunteer program, Volunteens, I have been able to participate in various projects such as the following: visiting the elderly in nursing homes, distributing food to those in need and spending time with disabled children. Inasmuch as my volunteer work may have been an extension of my duty as a JROTC officer, my duty was surpassed by the self-satisfaction I felt through my volunteer experiences. To continue my growth as an American citizen with responsibility to mankind, I decided to be a participant in the program, Cross-Cultural Solutions, a global volunteer program. Originally, during the summer of 2003, I planned to be a volunteer in Xi'an, China as a teacher of conversational English to children and young adults. Unfortunately, my plans were altered due to the SARS epidemic in China. The organization felt that conditions in China were not safe at the time of my project and my trip was canceled.
One purpose of a member of the armed forces is to provide the nation with leaders of character who posses the knowledge of what is right and the moral courage to act on that knowledge.  Honor has been an important value in my high school years, and it has guided me both academically and socially. Currently, I maintain the highest GPA and number one ranking in my class. Furthermore, through my actions and character, I have gained the respect of my fellow classmates. Even though I attend a school where my race is considered a minority, I have been able to overcome adversity by being elected Sophomore Class Vice-President and Junior Class President. Both of these accomplishments have been achieved with honor and integrity. As a JROTC officer, not only do I maintain my honor, but I also practice and promote tolerance as a part of the Belaire High School community.
The final value as stated by General MacArthur was "Country." A cadet has the duty to defend the rights of its free citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and is bound to this service by oath.  Even though I am not of age to join the armed forces, I feel a deep responsibility to protect the rights of all individuals of the United States and those abroad. I respect freedom and understand that freedom has a price; a price that I will be honored to pay one day. As a JROTC officer, I have been taught the values of "Duty, Honor and Country" through instruction and personal readings. These values have provided the moral foundation for my growth as an individual and as an American citizen.
C/CPT Patrick Fourroux