ROTC cadets spruce up veterans’ plots

Published 5:37 am Wednesday, January 18, 2017

While their peers were enjoying the day off from school, roughly a dozen cadets in the Bogalusa Jr. ROTC program spent their Monday helping to improve the conditions at Bogalusa Cemetery.

In the cemetery’s veterans’ plots, grass and weeds have overgrown to the point that it is difficult to read the grave markers to see who is buried where. On Monday, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the cadets spent several hours unearthing those stones, and then leveling out the ground. They then relaid the stones on the higher ground, ensuring they would be easier to read.

First Sgt. Jack Rogers, one of the Jr. ROTC program instructors, said the cadets began the project several years ago, and MLK Day proved to be an excellent occasion to continue it.

“We’re calling it ‘Task Force Honor,’” Rogers said. “I think it’s especially significant to do this work on this day, because this is a historically African-American cemetery, and these are primarily African-American veterans plots.”

The cadets’ goal was to improve 84 plots at the cemetery Monday.

Teddy Drummond, a member of the Bogalusa City Council, said it was a source of pride to see the high schoolers giving time back to their community on what would have normally been a day off from school.

“I want the public to know there are a lot of good kids in this community,” Drummond said. “They chose to do this and to volunteer their time. It makes me feel good about the youth today, and about our future.”

Gregory Chalfant, a senior at Bogalusa High School, said that he has already made plans to join the military shortly after his graduation. He noted that the Jr. ROTC program has already provided him with many life lessons.

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” he said. “It’s helped to make me less shy, and allow me to come out of my shell a bit. I’m participating in more things, and I’ve learned to be more self-confident. I’ve definitely learned how to be a better person.”

Chalfant said that Monday’s project was especially special, because of his pride in the military and those who have served their country.

“These are people who gave their lives and served their country with pride,” he said, motioning to the veterans’ plots. “They sacrificed for us, and this is a chance to return our service to them.”