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Difference is discipline

Though we’re three days removed from Veterans Day, I think it’s always a good time to offer a hearty thank you to all the veterans out there for their service to this great country.

The military forms the backbone of this country. Without the bravery and fighting spirit of the men and women of the armed forces, the United States would be in terrible shape and not the greatest country as we know it to be today. Sure, we have our share of problems, but nothing like other places where there is civil unrest and uprisings almost on a daily basis.

During my younger years, I chose to go to college rather than join the military. However, I’ve always held those who served in the military in high esteem.

Growing up, I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it, but folks in the military always seemed a little different than those of us who remained civilians. As the years went by, I figured it out. It was the military discipline that all men and women in the armed forces lived by that was the difference.

Several years ago, I had a unique opportunity to go to a journalism seminar at Washington & Lee University at Lexington, Va. Virginia Military Institute was adjacent to the Washington & Lee campus. The VMI campus and cadets in their snappy uniforms were sights to behold. Seeing the campus made a lasting impression upon me.

Like many people, I thought that if you took an ROTC course in high school or college that it was one of the first steps toward deployment. In my case, that was Vietnam.

Curiosity got the better of me while at then-Southwest Mississippi Junior College. The ROTC instructor there was about as enthusiastic about his job as anybody you could find. He was popular among all the students and a genuinely likeable person. He went out of his way to assist students any way he could.

He was one of the reasons I took not one, but two ROTC classes and thoroughly enjoyed it. I believe I learned some valuable life lessons from the classes.

Fast forward about 35 years and current Bogalusa High School JROTC instructor 1st Sgt. Jack Rogers is cut from the same cloth as the SMJC ROTC instructor. A permanent smile always lines Rogers’ face. Did I mention his enthusiasm?

My first opportunity to meet Rogers was in September during the ROTC’s annual Blood Draw at the school. It seems our paths have crossed almost every weekend after that at some function at Cassidy Park or in town. Look for a broad smile and you’ve found the first sargent. His cadets reflect his dedication and enthusiasm. One can instantly tell they enjoy what they are doing. Rogers is key in that development.

Did I mention his enthusiasm?

Randy Hammons is a staff writer for The Daily News. He can be reached by calling 985-732-2565, or by email at randy.hammons@thebogalusadailynews.com.