Annual Parade Salutes Veterans with Junior ROTC and High School Bands

jrotcIn a stirring display of unity and gratitude, the resounding cadence calls of Junior ROTC echoed alongside the rhythmic beats of Killeen ISD high school marching bands, providing a poignant soundtrack for the annual City of Killeen Veterans Day parade on Saturday.

The parade, a vibrant tapestry of patriotism, featured Junior ROTC battalions from Killeen, Chaparral, Shoemaker, Ellison, and Harker Heights high schools, winding through downtown streets as eager residents lined the sidewalks to witness the spectacle. Alongside them, marching bands and dance teams from Ellison, Chaparral, Harker Heights, Shoemaker, and Killeen high schools contributed to the lively procession.

group picBefore the parade commenced, the top student leadership cadets from each group came together for a memorable photo, symbolizing the camaraderie that would resonate throughout the event. Battalion commanders unanimously recognized Veterans Day as a particularly unique moment for the JROTC, with the excitement palpable among those who had not yet experienced such a parade.

cadetCharlize Dean, a senior from Shoemaker High School JROTC, passionately expressed the honor they felt in supporting veterans within their community and across Texas. "Its an honor to show our support for the veterans here in our community and Texas. We want to make sure they understand we really appreciate what they have done." As she looks towards graduation, Dean emphasized the significance of laying a heartfelt foundation for future JROTC students, highlighting the tight-knit familial bond that defined Shoemaker.

roo bandSophia Elison, a member of the Killeen High School Roo Band, echoed the sentiment, stressing the importance of honoring veterans like her grandfather, whose sacrifices secured the freedoms she enjoys today. Madie Haynes, also from the KHS Roo Band, shed light on their musical performance of the "Avengers March," a tribute dedicated to both veterans and active-duty members, seeking to unite people and express gratitude for the ongoing sacrifices of the military.

Stokes

The collective impact of the parade was felt throughout the city of Killeen, serving as a unifying force to showcase pride and appreciation for veterans. The rare collaboration of the five KISD high school bands, forming a combined ensemble, added a unique touch to the event. Garth Gunderson, KISD co-director of Fine Arts, lauded the exceptional synergy and energy that flowed among the bands, highlighting the top 50 students from each group in the all-star ensemble.

Throughout the parade, many familiar KISD faces were seen participating. Colonel Laticia Stokes, Fort Cavazos Garrison Commander, served as the parade's Grand Marshall and took a moment to meet JROTC cadets from Shoemaker High School. 

Vietnam veteran Charles Webster, visibly moved by the sight of young individuals proudly donning their JROTC uniforms, expressed deep pride. Vietnam VetVet with CadetReflecting on the experience, he remarked, "They think they are honoring us, and they are, but sitting here today, we honor them." In the exchange of respect and gratitude, the parade became a powerful tribute, bridging generations and weaving a collective display of appreciation for those who served.

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