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Showing graditude NJROTC cadets honor those who served their country

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By Kirsten Laskey

Throughout the school year, the Los Alamos High School Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps have helped with many significant events throughout New Mexico.

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In October 2009, NJROTC cadets served as the color guard in the ninth annual Bi-national Policy Forum on Migration and Health at Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino. Later, they took part in the Veteran’s Day ceremony held at Los Alamos National Laboratory on Nov. 11.

Then on Dec. 12, the cadets continued to their statewide presence by participating in the Wreaths Across America event in Santa Fe.

Six cadets traveled to Santa Fe National Cemetery to honor service men and women who had died. This is a national event that is held throughout the country.

According to its Web site, Wreaths Across America is a nonprofit 501-c(3) organization and was formed as an extension of the Arlington Wreath Project.  Once word got out about the Arlington Wreath Project, there was an outpouring of requests from across the U.S. to host similar programs at other national and state cemeteries, the Web site reported.

As a result, more than        150 locations hold wreath-laying ceremonies simultaneously.

Experiencing the program in Santa Fe had a profound impact on the local students. “It was actually a wonderful experience,” LAHS senior Paige Ramsey said. “It was really moving being there and honoring the fallen soldiers of our nation.”

She added, “it was a valuable experience because it gets out in the community and shows (people) what we’re are really about and shows us supporting not only our community but our nation.”

Junior Megan McClure commented, “I thought it was a really cool … I thought it was a pretty important event.”

It was the cadets’ own initiative that allowed them to participate.

Wes Schumaker, senior naval science instructor,  said the students found out who sponsored the ceremony and contacted the individual.

He added he is impressed with the students’ work.

“I think it was an outstanding thing,” Schumaker said.

Being a part of the Wreaths Across of America, in addition to the other events, is a valuable experience, he added.

“I feel they are doing a real outstanding job getting out not just in our community (but) throughout the state,” Schumaker said. “I think it’s important. It kind of gets them out in the world. They had the opportunity to meet and experience (individuals at these events) and see who these people are and what makes them successful. It’s giving back to the community, too.”