The first day of competition is finished for The National High School Drill Team Championships 2012 and all is going very well- at least outside the Ocean Center. After spending about 10 hours outside at the Ocean Walk and getting a great farmer’s tan, I talked with dozens of cadets and I found out:
- The DrillMaster Driller’s Bayonet is a hit and I could have sold several had they been in production
- The DrillMaster 14 is a huge hit and I could have sold them as well!
I was able to explain what was happening and direct people to the Ocean Center for the competition. I talked with a woman who used to march color guard in a Massachusetts drum corps man years ago who was amazed at the weight of the rifles. I was also asked to critique two solos and three tandems. I worked with some great Drillers and helped them see their routine from a different perspective and had such fun meeting all kinds of people from across the US! And then there was the “gentleman” who sidled up beside my table wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the image of an eagle that said, “Proud to be American,” and said, “Hitler Youth Weekend, huh?” I gave him a perplexed look and turned around to continue watching the team that was practicing (Step II). As he chuckled to himself, I looked at him and told him, “No, this is the Junior ROTC National…” at which point he interrupted me and said as he childishly departed, “Same thing.”
The perception of (J)ROTC may, in some minds, have parallels to Adolf Hitler’s program for indoctrinating youth into the WWII Nazi culture of brainwashing young minds into believing the state is God. While this is not the case of any American cadet program (JROTC, CAP, Young Marines, etc.), even if one does have this type of inept mentality, one needs to look past their prejudices and appreciate the time and effort the cadets put into drill. Period.
Hard work, discipline, leadership, followership, teamwork, the list goes on and on of the positive life skills cadets can learn through JROTC. On top of all of that, American Drillers put in hundreds of hours of planning and practice into their routines. Some cadets even learn their drill team’s routine, the color guard’s routine and then they work on their solo routine and maybe even a tandem routine! Many cadets go the extra mile as evidenced at every drill competition across the USA. The inability of a small group of people to recognize this should be treated as insignificant to America’s Drillers.
God bless America and God bless America’s Drillers of all ages.