NSSAR JROTC Honor Legion Winner's Essay for 2003



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." [1]  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, dist