The Junior ROTC at Woodbury High School tries to put on a different Veterans Day program each year to grab the attention of those who attend.
This year’s ceremony raised the bar with its interactive approach.
Monday’s program featured a host of local dignitaries on stage, but their presence was to simply show support. It was the students who truly put on the assembly.
Retired Air Force Maj. Thom Petzold said this was the first year program planning was entirely turned over to the cadets.
“You always get nervous because these are your kids and you want to make sure that they do well,” said Petzold, who is the senior aerospace science instructor and also heads up the WHS JROTC program. “My first impression when it was all done was: super job.”
After introductions, the cadets honored every veteran in the gymnasium. They then incorporated the school’s concert band, which played the musical salute for each military branch, and asked that veterans and family members of vets stand as their branch’s song played.
Another highlight came when five cadets, one by one, placed uniform hats on a white-clothed table in the middle of the gym floor while other cadets read war accounts of service members corresponding to each hat. They ended the segment by placing a folded American flag on the table as two students played Taps on their trumpets.
“As a veteran, I felt well represented,” said retired Air Force MSgt. Kathy Cotto, who also works with the Junior ROTC. “They did a great job. I couldn’t be happier.”
Woodbury junior Matt Bedessem, who narrated the program and is a cadet first lieutenant in the Air Force, said the event “was one of the bigger things that I’ve ever done for ROTC. And I was honored to do it.”
Perhaps one of the more touching moments of Monday’s ceremony happened as students filed out of the gym.
“They just lined up to come and shake your hand after the ceremony, which really made all of the veterans feel good,” said VFW Post 9024 Commander Bob Fritsche. “I just felt proud to be a veteran.”