By Julia Beiler
The Army National Guard, the Army, the Navy, and the Air National Guard stood on the streets of Red Lion outside the gates of Horn Field Oct. 25.
A howitzer pointed off into the distance of the town. An Army truck idled on Horace Mann Avenue near a dozen military men in their uniforms. This was not a combat situation, but a tailgate before Friday night’s football game outside of Horn Field.
This tailgate was not your typical barbeque and family hangout. The different branches had their own special setups with yard games and informational flyers for students. Each branch was sharing the benefits of joining the military and how a student could benefit from joining.
Not only was this event informational, but the main goal of the event was also to promote interest in and raise money for the Jr. Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program that Red Lion is trying to draw to the school.
The Jr. ROTC program is a character development program that in placed in public or private schools throughout the country. Students who are involved in the program gain different skills and knowledge.
“Leadership, self-discipline, undefinable grit, and critical thinking,” Rickard said. All those traits are something that students can get from having this program within the school.
Students who have already enlisted in the military worked at the booths that night, including senior Logan Axe.
“The night seemed to be successful,” Axe said. “Lots of students were stopping by before the game.”
The idea of bringing a Jr. ROTC program to Red Lion has been around for just about two years, according to Bill Rickard. The Air Force was the only branch of the military that showed interest in placing this program into Red Lion. Friday night’s tailgate was a way of promoting the program and fundraising for it.
Although it has taken a long time to get to this point, there are still many obstacles before this program can be placed into the school. One of these obstacles being the Air Force was the only branch of the military that showed interest in placing this program into Red Lion.
“We will be having a site visit in April,” Rickard said. “And we will see what happens from there.”
An estimated $250,000 is the starting budget to get the program up and running. Assistant principal Bill Rickard said that the expense is worth it.
Having this event on Friday gained promotion and fundraising for the Jr. ROTC program that might go into Red Lion Area Senior High School. As successful as this tailgate was, there was much more behind corn hole and hanging out. This tailgate had the promotion of something that may impact Red Lion for years to come.