The JROTC program at Marion County High School is hoping to draw veterans from Marion and surrounding counties for this year’s Veterans Day Ceremony, which is scheduled for November 8 beginning at 1:00 pm.
During the program, JROTC students will individually recognize 36 Vietnam veterans from Marion, Taylor, LaRue, Nelson, Boyle, Washington, and Casey counties who were killed in action, held as prisoners of war, or are missing in action.
Veterans and family members from those counties are encouraged to attend.
This year’s ceremony will also feature the traveling Vietnam Wall -- a memorial which includes the names of 1,105 Kentucky Vietnam soldiers who were killed in action, held as prisoners of war, or are missing in action.
The Vietnam Wall will be on display both before and after the Veterans Day ceremony and guests are invited to visit it throughout the day.
For JROTC students Elissa Turpin and Chloe Morgan, the Veterans Day program is a way to show appreciation to all veterans.
“It’s just to say thanks for everybody that has served our country,” Morgan said. “It’s awesome and it’s also an emotional ceremony. I cried last year -- several people teared up.”
Morgan and Turpin have been a part of previous Veterans Day ceremonies, and expect this year’s to be a memorable one.
“We’re wanting to top last year,” Turpin said. “Everyone said it was one of our best.”
Both students said they thought the addition of the Vietnam Wall would make this year’s event especially memorable.
For Turpin, the most powerful aspect of the ceremony will be “everyone seeing how many people were either killed or went missing [during Vietnam] just from Kentucky alone.”
Both students also agreed that the Veterans Day ceremony is the biggest event of the year for the JROTC program, which has been planning and working on the program since the beginning of the school year.
JROTC instructor First Sergeant Phil Chatigny is hoping that veterans and family members of veterans from Marion and surrounding counties visit MCHS that day, even if it’s just to see the Vietnam Wall.
“We just want the public to come out to help us honor our veterans,” Chatigny said. “[The Kentucky Vietnam Wall] is equivalent to the Vietnam wall in DC where people can go up with a piece of paper and charcoal and highlight family members’ names.
“There are 1105 names on the wall. We’re honoring 36 of the names listed from Marion and surrounding counties.”
The JROTC program is also working the MCHS art teacher Kandace Potter and her art students to put together 1,105 red ribbons, which will symbolize the red ribbons that family members wore while soldiers and service members were deployed. Family members of those Vietnam veterans listed on the wall are encouraged to take one of the red ribbons following the ceremony.
“I’m pretty excited because last year I didn’t get to watch any of [the program] because I was behind stage reading,” Turpin said. “I think it will be nice to see if anyone shows to take the red ribbons.”
Like his students, Chatigny too is hoping that this year’s ceremony will especially memorable. Since his time in MCPS, Chatigny has seen the annual ceremony improve each year.
“This is my 13th year [working at the high school] so this is my 13th Veteran’s Day. They started out small, but each year the students have taken it up a notch,” he said. “[The students’] main goal every year is to just honor our veterans, regardless of when they served. It’s just to honor them and that one time of year say thank you for your service.”
Chatigny also praised the way his students have taken ownership of the ceremony.
“They do all the research,” he said. “They found all 36 local names, they found picture for all of them [...] the date they died, their county, the city they’re from.”
Those interested in attending the ceremony do not need to register and should plan to arrive at Marion County High School by at least 12:50. The program will begin at 1:00 pm. with refreshments served afterward.
For more information, contact Chatigny at firstname.lastname@example.org.