Several hundred turned out at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at KCHS on the Sunday before Independence Day for the 25th Annual Happy Birthday America! God & Country Rally. According to organizer Dave Carey the rally is designed to recognize God’s blessings on our country and honor all of our veterans and their families. It is sponsored by the God and Country Rally committee, area churches and service organizations. This year’s featured speaker was U.S. Army First Sergeant Christopher Watts (Ret) who has served 26 years earning multiple awards and decoration and is currently Assistant JROTC Instructor and competition drill team coach in Anchorage. “As challenging as things may look for the youth of our nation, JROTC offers a great alternative for future plans where you can get life tools for character development and leadership skills where you can deal with challenging situations on a peer to peer level and help young people with what can appear to be a very confusing future,” said Watts in an interview with the Dispatch.
Joining a JROTC program does not mean a commitment to military service according to Watts, “In fact Junior Army ROTC’s bottom line is not to build the military, but to build effective citizens for our society. The JROTC motto is motivating young people to be better citizens,” he said. JROTC is offered as an elective at high schools in various school districts.
The God and Country Rally included a tribute to veterans of branches of service and were asked to stand for applause as their anthem was played. Traditional hymns were also led by Fern Covey and her team along with prayers of remembrance for all victims of violence. Assisting Dave Carey in organizing this year’s event was Pastor Jon Watson, Pastor Alan Humphries and Herb Stettler.