Veterans past, present, and future honored during 2nd Annual Military Appreciation Night
The action on the football field wasn’t the only draw to the Oct. 5 gridiron matchup between district rivals Olentangy Orange and Olentangy high schools.
The game also served as the second annual Military Appreciation Night, an event that featured more than 100 military veterans and more than 30 veteran organizations. Also in attendance were high school seniors from both schools who intend to enlist in the military after graduation. The seniors - 15 future veterans in total - served as honorary captains for their respective schools and participated in the game’s opening coin toss.
Other honorary guests included World War II veterans Lawrence Henry McCauley and Russell E. Harmon. In addition to participating in D-Day, McCauley saw service during the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Berlin. McCauley was humbled by the event’s turnout.
“I’m proud that so many are here to remember those who served, and I’m proud to be here,” McCauley said.
Retired Navy man and Vietnam veteran Gary England was among those who traveled from outside of central Ohio to attend Military Appreciation Night. The outpouring of support from the crowd, especially from the students, impressed England.
“It means a lot to see so many veterans here. To know that there are many of us in the area, and to see so many young people here to support us,” England said. There was a time when Vietnam veterans would not have done this,” he added. “They wouldn’t want to admit to it. Thankfully, things have changed.”
Reaffirming the country’s appreciation for its veterans and those who currently serve is the goal behind Military Appreciation Night, said Terrence McDermott, OOHS teacher, veteran and coordinator of Military Appreciation Night. McDermott thanked the many teachers and family members who helped organize the event.
The district’s commitment to honoring military service was recognized by the state during halftime as OHS Principal Robert Griffiths and OOHS Principal Trond Smith accepted Purple Star awards from the Ohio Department of Education. The awards are given to schools that show a commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military. A total of seven district schools have received the recognition since the state launched the Purple Star Award program last year.