BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It was a day before Veterans Day, but Parkview Baptist School was ablaze with Old Glory. The veterans group, Military Order of the World Wars, LTG Troy H. Middleton Chapter, hosted its Massing of the Colors ceremony for the student body at Parkview and the public.
Many veterans including USS Kidd director Alejandra Juan, who served in the Marines, were in attendance.
I was keynote speaker at today's program, and from the stage, I had a view of a stunning patriotic display. 20 different honor guards, many who competed earlier in the day in Parkview's Honor Guard Drill Competition, were presented in their military formations. They entered the gym as the Parkview Baptist Band played a dignified march. On the school gym's polished floor, the highly-polished shoes of the honor guards showed the pride with which these teams practiced and honed their finest presentation skills.
For all the moms and dads out there, these are the honor guard teams who participated Tuesday: US Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Baton Rouge, LSU Pershing Rifles Company D-17, Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 3784, Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 488, Marine Corps League Choctaw Detachment, and ROTC guards from Tara High, Central High, St. Amant High, Zachary High, Belaire High, Broadmoor High, Glen Oaks High, Lee High, Northeast High, Scotlandville High, and Woodlawn High. There were also these community groups: Civil Air Patrol Ascension Composite Squadron, Knights of Columbus Bishop Ott Assembly, Parkview Eagle Scouts, and Parkview Boy Scouts.
As a young, sharply dressed student Commander of Troops, Cadet LTC Alisha Parker of Tara High School issued the vocal commands that moved the mass of flag carrying corps through their pageantry.
Parkview's choir performed several patriotic songs. Along with the band accompanying them, they sang the words of every theme songs of America's military forces, and as they did, veterans from those organizations stood to applause from the audience, young and old.
I wondered how many adults would remember all the words to the Air Force Theme, The Caissons Go Rolling Along, …to name a few. The Parkview Choir members who spilled onto the stage and the gym floor held no sheet music. They definitely had memorized all the words.
The Baton Rouge Pipes and Drums played their traditional bagpipe favorites, but also patriotic songs.
After all the speeches, prayers, and songs, the program was nearing its end when the winners of the honor guard competition were announced.
St. Amant High School with its perfect synchronization was champion, and first runner up was Broadmoor High School with its specialized footwork.
Broadmoor's was not a goose step, but a smartly swinging forward step with a snap turn. I asked Broadmoor's team who taught them the step I had seen Arlington National Cemetery guards use. They pointed at DeAundria Williams whose face melted into the biggest smile.
Tuesday was a moment of pride for veterans, yes, but students with their lives ahead of them could be proud of their accomplishments too.