By Eric Ordonez
Tomorrow, on the Saturday before Veteran’s Day weekend, members of the NJROTC around Floyd County and others will continue a highly regarded tradition. They will show their respect to a recent local fallen soldier.
It is something that has had great experiences in its first few years.
This weekend it will be the fourth annual nine-mile walk, in which approximately 110 NJROTC cadets will march from the rotunda in the front of the school down to the gravesite of the fallen soldier at the National Cemetery located on Ekin Avenue.They plan to begin their memorial march no later than 9 a.m.
The walk will focus on recognizing the duties of this soldier, and anyone else who has ever served.
“There is only one reason we do this, and that is because the cadets sacrifice themselves to really honor a fallen soldier,” Colonel Ben Gipe said.
Along with the FC cadets, the walk will consist of National Guard personnel, some active duty, 100 Washington High School cadets, and about 100 New Albany High School cadets. Along with these groups, the FC cadets will be escorted by the Floyd County Police.
“The veterans have done so much it isn’t a big deal to walk nine miles for them,” said senior Marissa Samons.
Four years ago, this tradition was begun by Senior Chief Michael Beal and Gipe.
“Colonel [Gipe] thought of it while he was in Iraq, so when he got home he said ‘Let’s do it’,” said Beal.
Through the majority of the walk they will try to remain a fun and entertaining environment. They have two breaks where Gipe will hand out an assortment of snacks. Also, Jay-C and Walmart will provide water for the cadets and members of the walk.
“We get honks…people honk like crazy. We also get a lot of support from random people on the street, veterans say ‘thanks,’ and families often come back and thank them and they appreciate us,” said Beal.
Tomorrow’s ceremonial march will be one to remember for everyone involved. The cadets, in Gipe’s mind, owe it to soldiers and soldiers only. Gipe is certainly excited for it, and said people in general owe the utmost respect to veterans.
“Not teachers, lawyers, police, none of them. It’s veterans, because they give us our rights. They’re the reason we have our rights,” said Gipe.