JROTC Cadets say thanks to Soldiers
FORT WORTH, Texas – North Side High School Army JROTC Cadet Cristal Flores went to the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport hoping to thank soldiers as they headed back to Iraq and Afghanistan and give them the knowledge that they are appreciated.
Flores and dozens of other cadets, left the airport on Dec. 11 feeling inspired, proud and committed to serving their country.
“When I saw the troops leaving the airport to go back…at that moment, I thought of me being the one to leave the airport,” said Flores, a freshman North Side High School who hopes to pursue a military career after high school.
This is the second year North Side High School JROTC cadets have gone to the airport to greet troops returning from overseas and to thank troops headed back into dangerous locations,
including Iraq and Afghanistan. This year, the cadets passed out holiday cards made by students, teachers and staff at North Side High School in Fort Worth, Texas.
Many of the cadets said they were touched by the emotional reunions and goodbyes.
“At first it made me sad because there are thousands of people who grow up, join the Army, leave, and sometimes don’t come back,” said cadet Analyssa Lira, who is also a freshman at North Side High School. “They do that for the country they love. Nobody forces them to risk their lives for our freedom. These people are so selfless.”
Cadet Cynthia Gomez, a freshman at North Side High School, was particularly touched by “a woman crying looking at her husband who was holding their little daughter, who was no older than three years old. Right at that moment, I felt the sorrow and despair rolling off the parents.”
Other cadets felt hope and pride.
“I learned that we have to be thankful for our Soldiers who go into combat for us so we can have freedom,” said Cadet Nidia Rodriguez, a senior at North Side. “The best way we can show respect is to thank them.”
Lt. Col. Richard Crossley, Senior JROTC Instructor, said the trip to the airport is the “best community service project we have done, and one of the things we will continue to do.”
“To see the look on the faces of the soldiers and cadets…it was great,” Crossley said. “It means so much to the cadets and to the returning service members.”
The field trip fit nicely with the JROTC core curriculum, which emphasizes service to the community, honor and integrity. Also, it strengthens one of our core abilities: doing your share as a good citizen in your school, your country and the world.
“Part of the creed of JROTC is citizenship,” Crossley said. “If you don’t care about your community and giving, that’s not citizenship. Citizenship is about giving; it’s about serving.
“As a Soldier, I know what it means when you’ve been away to see fellow citizens standing there at the terminal saying, `Thanks for your service. We appreciate your sacrifice,’” Crossley said. “It was powerful for the kids.”
Cadet Zackry Chandler, a sophomore at North Side, said the experience stirred powerful and conflicting emotions within him.
“There was sadness because I watched the troops leave knowing some of them might not make it back,” Chandler said. “But I am grateful that I got a chance to say goodbye.”