By AUSTIN WELLS
Unit 81 of the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary (DAVA) welcomed a couple of guest speakers from the Greenville Independent School District NJROTC and another special guest of honor during an Americanism program at the DAV building on Saturday.
Commander James Reed of the ROTC addressed the various veterans in the audience, thanking them for their contributions to the country.
“They gave us our freedoms and the justice system we have today,” Reed said. “Without you, that probably wouldn’t have been possible, and you are our heroes.”
Reed also spoke of the country’s youth population and how important they are to the future of America. He said that they will be the ones shouldering the brunt of the country’s $17 trillion in debt, an fact that only adds to the growing woes of the nation’s economic crisis.
“Your grandchildren and their grandchildren will be paying that off for forever unless we get these young people up there and can fix some of these problems,” Reed said.
Having served in the Navy for 49 years, Reed is currently the senior naval science instructor for the ROTC at Greenville High School, and is a tremendous advocate of the importance of education in the lives of high school kids.
Reed read off some alarming statistics regarding high school graduation rates from several areas around the country, including California and the District of Columbia. California’s recent graduation rate was 56 percent.
“That equates to roughly six out of every 10 students that graduate,” Reed said. “Those other four or so, you have to wonder what they’re doing.”
So what are some of the things that we can do about this problem? According to Reed, adults need to talk to their kids about their careers and how best they can go about achieving what they want out of life.
“Kids do remember, and they do take heed of what you say,” Reed said.
Suzy Ramirez, a former ROTC member and 2010 graduate out of Greenville High School, reinforced Reed’s words with her own story of how the ROTC helped her find determination to become a full time college student as well as an active volunteer throughout the community.
Ramirez is the vice president of the Hunt County Crime Stoppers organization, and also owns her own boutique shop with her mother.
“I told Commander Reed that if I want to do something in life, I know I can do it,” she said.
Ramirez’s strong will to succeed is just one example of the type of person that the ROTC tries to mold.
“That’s the type of person we’re trying to train in the ROTC, to get them started on the road to success, to enjoy life, to put something back in and be somebody,” Reed said.
World War II Navy veteran Anne Beshears was also honored during the event. Beshears received a plague for her multiple years of service, and had a bit of her history read to attendees by Jr. DAVA member Stacy Seigler.
Those in attendance of the program were also treated to a rifle drill by the GHS NJROTC squad.