Editor’s correction: Salute to Service honored 60 high school seniors.
By Dawn Arden
Public Affairs Office
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (May 3, 2019) – Hundreds of area residents from Fort Leonard Wood and the surrounding communities gathered in the Waynesville High School gymnasium Wednesday for the area’s first Community Salute to Service.
The inaugural event honored 60 seniors from high schools across South Central Missouri who made a commitment to serve in the United States military.
“We typically enter our gyms as rivals; however, tonight, on this court, we are united as Americans and are here to show our support and appreciation for those joining the military,” said Dr. Brian Henry, Waynesville R-VI School District superintendent.
During his opening remarks Missouri Governor Michael Parson, an Army veteran, congratulated the students on their decision and said he didn’t understand the true meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance or the U.S. flag until he wore the uniform.
“You’re going to make sacrifices for people you’ll never see, you’ll never know and you’ll never meet,” Parson said. “But what you will do — you will join the tradition that was handed down by our forefathers.”
Keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, told the students that they are choosing a career unlike any other in America and commended their families and educators for supporting them.
“(These students) are becoming a member of a very elite team. They are becoming a part of history and you should be proud that they have the courage to leave the comfort of their surroundings to experience adventures all over the world that come with military service,” Martin said. “They have chosen to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”
She said the students are the next generation of guardians for the principles on which founded the country.
“Tonight we celebrate you and say thank you for joining the less than 1% of Americans who serve and sacrifice in defense of this great nation,” Martin said. “Your lives will forever be changed in a positive way. Welcome to our team.”
Additional photos are available on FLICKR at https://www.flickr.com/photos/fortleonardwood/albums/.
Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post more than 75 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains more than 82,000 military and civilians each year.
Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.
Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps and Air Force detachments on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.
More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/about/mission.