West Color Guard

West High AFJROTC Cadets present the Big Flag at the 3rd Girls State Championship Game March 26th.

West High AFJROTC Cadets present the Big Flag at the 3rd Girls State Championship Game March 26th.

Alexa-Ann Roehl, Reporter

Have you ever wondered what it’s like behind the scenes of all of the color guards that happen, anywhere and everywhere? Well, buckle your seatbelts, because you’re going on an adventure! For the past about 10 years, West High School’s Air Force JROTC Program has presented a BIG flag

The flag is 40 feet by 60 feet’, and it takes at least 20 people for a proper Big Flag ceremony to be executed. Each year, the JROTC performs anywhere between six and eight Big Flag Ceremonies for events like football games, and basketball games.

        “Each year, we make changes to the ceremony to make it easier, and look more professional,” says Rick Strickland, the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor for the AFJROTC Program at West. The cadets that chose to participate, and give their time up to do some community service, have spent “Quite a few hours practicing for the ceremony, both during class and after school. These ceremonies help instill the corps values into the cadets even more, with an emphasis on respect and dignity for the nation.” says Strickland.

This year, the Big Flag went “very well” according to Jack Gagnon, a third year cadet. “I think there is still some room for improvements, like always, but overall, it went well.”

        For the past 10 years, JROTC has been doing these Big Flags, but they’ve also been doing countless color guards. “I’ve done at least 15 color guards this year,” says Senior Cadet Sinanna Ellis.

Ellis agrees that each year the ceremonies get better and better, because they practice more, and get closer to achieving perfection with each practice. “I was nervous about the sabers being in sync, and making the wrong moves, because positions got changed last minute and we didn’t get that much practice the day of the event,” says Ellis.

        “I have commanded 3 Big Flags in my time in JROTC,” says Gagnon. “And each time I’m nervous about something different. This time, I was really nervous about having enough cadets show up in uniform, so that we could do well.”

        “Sometimes, a lot of the cadets won’t participate in events because they’re short, and sometimes boring,” Ellis commented. “But when there’s food involved, they come by the masses.”

Strickland vocalized how proud he is of all of the cadets, and how well the event turned out. “I think they did exceedingly well, we made big changes, so it was difficult at first. It’s always a good turn out when there’s food, and this time was no exception. Many cadets were convinced to go when they were told we were going to Golden Corral after the first Big Flag.”

Big Flags have an important national significance. “They’re unique, because not many units have one, it shows a lot of respect for the nation, and it also dignifies the nation. A lot of the cadets feel immensely proud after they present the flag, because they don’t present them often, and I’ve been told it’s one of the best experiences that many of them have ever had.” says Strickland.