BUCKHANNON – Today marks Armed Forces Day and we at My Buckhannon want to celebrate folks who are currently serving in the six branches of the U.S. Military, including the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy and the newly formed Space Force.
Armed Forces Day occurs on the third Saturday in May and was established as a holiday by President Harry S. Truman. The day encourages citizens to pay tribute to those currently serving time in the U.S. military, and differs from Veterans Day, which celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. It is also different from Memorial Day, celebrated next weekend, which honors those who died while in military service.
Armed Forces Day was announced by Defense Secretary Louis Johnson on Aug. 31, 1949 to replace the separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days to make one single celebration, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Truman praised the work of the military at home and across the seas and said, “the military is vital to the security of the U.S. and to the establishment of a desirable peace.”
In November during a Veterans Day celebration at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, LTC Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Perkins, a B-UHS graduate himself, said West Virginians and Upshur County residents have a proud and unique military heritage, noting that West Virginia has a 50 percent greater than average number of military veterans and that Upshur County serves the country well with military personnel.
At B-UHS, the promotion of military service has been moved to the forefront, and Upshur County Schools administrators have worked to establish ways students can learn more about military service.
During the last school year, a Military Club was established at B-UHS to help students learn about the branches of the military. Military Club Advisor Cheryl Cain said the club membership grew over the year, while Principal Eddie Vincent said the club helped to kick off additional interest in the military pathway at the school.
“There was a growing idea to start an ROTC type program at the school and we were exploring options with that. One of the things we did in the meantime was to start the Military Club,” Vincent said.
Currently, B-UHS is working to add a Future Leaders Program – a leadership-based high school program that instills leadership, promotes citizenship and reinforces life skills. Future Leaders Program Manager David P. Eldridge said the program is a low-cost alternative to the JROTC and the National Defense Corps of Cadet Programs.
Eldridge said the FLP uses an academic-style lesson plan and is a hybrid academic/career technical program that’s taught by veterans who are trained and employed by the West Virginia Military Authority. Lessons include those in leadership, citizenship, life skills, military science and core subjects such as first aid, emergency preparedness, financial literacy, career direction, healthy lifestyles and communication.
The Military Club and the Future Leaders Program gives students an alternative learning path to entering the workforce or moving onto higher education; however, the program is not just for students who plan to enter the military.
Again, we want to thank all women and men in the military for their protection and for affording us the freedoms we as U.S. citizens enjoy. Have a safe and happy Armed Forces Day!