By Emily Younker
Students in Joplin High School’s JROTC program honored local veterans Friday afternoon with an appreciation ceremony at the 9-10 Campus.
Janene Woodruff, a high school senior and JROTC battalion commander, thanked the veterans who were in attendance for their service.
“It’s amazing to see all of the veterans here and being part of the youth organization,” she told the Globe afterward. “They’re helping make our country a better place, and that’s something we should all thank them for.”
During the hourlong assembly, students presented flags from the branches of the U.S. military and highlighted remarks from Ethan Place, a social studies teacher and football coach at Joplin High School and a former sniper with the U.S. Marine Corps.
“For you younger generation,” Place told the students in the auditorium, “really be appreciative for what people have done for you. We get a little spoiled here in the United States, and it’s good to get a little perspective.”
Place also had a message for the handful of veterans who were seated in the first two rows of the auditorium: “You guys are the heroes that laid the foundation of how I should act and how I should serve my country.”
Austin Kensinger, a senior in the JROTC program, said community turnout at this year’s assembly was larger than last year, when the school held the Veterans Day program for the first time.
“Thank you for putting your life out there for all of us so we can come in here and have the privilege to do this to honor you,” he told veterans after the assembly.
Austin Cash, of Diamond, said he knew he wanted to attend the assembly when he heard about it through friends. Cash, who enlisted in the U.S. Army in March and is a student in the automotive technology program at Franklin Technology Center, said being honored with the older veterans gave him a new perspective of Veterans Day.
“You can always kind of tell what a real veteran is,” he said. “They still shake your hand, knowing they did the same thing you are, and it really means a lot to you.”
Dave Snow, who was active in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, came to the assembly to support his granddaughter and her classmates in the Color Guard.
“My career (in the military) was good to me, and I think if the kids are thinking about it, I think it will be good for them,” he said.
Lt. Col. Paul Norris said the JROTC program at Joplin High School, which he leads, was brought to the school in 1919 — the same year that President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.