WASHINGTON – The Air Force Junior ROTC from Union High School in Tulsa,Okla.,was the only organization from Oklahoma to march in the parade after President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. This year at the inaugural parade,the group was again the sole representation of Oklahoma.
The award-winning Junior ROTC group was formed at Union High School in 2002. The group includes 110 members,but not all were able to make the trip to Washington.
While the group was in D.C.,the members visited monuments,memorials and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Chris Arrington,17,the group commander,said visiting the Iwo Jima Memorial was special to him.
“We have a few Marines in my family. I think that’s sort of the reason that it hit home. It’s a very big deal to Marines,” he said. He has been a JROTC member since his freshman year and said that he plans to become a Marine one day.
The cadets and chaperones traveled 24 hours by bus to get to D.C.,and they were en route to Tulsa immediately after the parade. They arrived home about 8:30 p.m. CST Tuesday.
The group had less than three weeks to prepare for the parade. The members raised nearly $40,000 through sponsors and donations to make the trip to Washington.
“We’ve worked awful hard to be able to have this opportunity,to be able to celebrate the inauguration of a president. No matter who it is,no matter what political aspirations they may have,this is an honor for us,” Ronald McCool,a retired lieutenant colonel,said.
The JROTC members will host a drill meet in March,prepare for a competition in April and march in a parade in McAlester,Okla.,in May.
Reach reporter Amy Slanchik at [email protected] or 202-326-9865. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.