First-year NJROTC cadet honors veterans


Kun Hong, Features Editor

Veterans Day just passed, and as a current NJROTC member, I was fortunate enough to have participated in the Military Parade in downtown Houston. Our unit left the school around 9 o’clock am, right after the end of second period. We gathered up from different parts of the campus and organized ourselves quickly and neatly into the school buses which were already there awaiting for us when we arrived. We were all dressed in our naval uniforms, the same style and details across the unit, in order to look unified and committed.
It was a long trip downtown, and I fell asleep along the way, like many other cadets sitting in the same bus. However, once we arrived, we immediately woke up, partly due to the loud calling of our officers, and also partly due to our anticipation for the parade. After each of us left the bus, we soon felt the chilly winds sweep through our short uniform sleeves. It was indeed a cold day, but our hearts and minds were filled with fiery exhilaration.
It was my first time participating in a Veterans Day parade and my first time participating in any sort of large scale parade in a major city. Not only is it grand in scale, people have “warned” me beforehand that this annual parade would also be broadcast live on local television. Needless to say, I was curious but fairly nervous at the same time. While we were on our way walking toward the starting spot of the parade, my fellow cadets and officers who stood near me in our formations, comforted me.
“There’s going to be a lot of people,” our platoon’s Lead Petty Officer turned around and said, “but you are going to be fine. Just march and sing!”
Did I mention that we also had to sing a classic navy song, Anchors Aweigh, while we marched  the streets of downtown? To be honest, I was prepared and excited to sing that song. After all, I didn’t want my days of hard work memorizing its lyrics go to waste.
An hour of waiting flew by waiting for the other schools and organizations to arrive and join the parade lineup. During this time we chatted, chanted our cadence, and practiced our military songs over and over again, until we all were absolutely pumped up about the march. And not long after that, the parade began.
It was a mixed feeling marching stiffly and singing loudly in front of pools and pools of people. The parade started and ended in a relatively short amount of distance, but after every corner we turned  were packed with audiences. Among those watchers, were both nearby working civilians who showed up to check out what’s going on, and veterans and their families who traveled purposely to witness the parade. There were people talking about us, complimenting us, and even singing along with us. An especially memorable moment happened when our naval science instructor, Captain Anthony, had been recognized by and reunited with his former companion in the military.
In conclusion, my first time participating in Houston’s Downtown Veteran Day Annual Parade was a truly enjoyable and eye-opening experience.