On March 26, 1919, The Joplin High School (JHS) Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, one of the longest running programs, was approved by the Department of Defense making this month its 100th anniversary. To celebrate this milestone, JHS JROTC, led by Sgt. Richard Banks and Lt. Col. Joshua Reitz, is hosting a parade, open house and military ball on Mar. 30.
“My hidden agenda is to re-energize the community, not just around JROTC but around this high school what it has done for the community for the last 100 years,” said Reitz.
The parade will start at 10 a.m. on Indiana Street and end at 12 a.m. The open house will start soon after, displaying historical pieces from the last century. Reenactors will dress in World War I and World War II uniforms and demilitarized weapons will be showcased. Later that night, the military ball will be held. It will be a formal event with a banquet, live music and photographs of the past displayed.
Several speakers are lined up, including a JHS JROTC alumnus from the mid 80’s who teaches at U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island and an officer from headquarters of the Department of the Army in Washington D.C.
Publicizing this event originally started as a Facebook page, but ended up as a collaborative effort from several people, from the cadets to the parents. JHS JROTC alumni have also helped spread the word by reaching out to their former classmates and friends.
“I knew that in order to make this event work we would need to leverage social media. I relied on some really smart students to help me out with that as well as some parent volunteers. We created the event here at this school and now as alumni get more excited about this, it’s creating a buzz,” said Reitz. “I’m not doing anything at this point. It’s all the alumni and the excited parents.”
Reitz and Banks encourage everyone from veterans to community members to join and celebrate this important part of Joplin’s history.
“At some point, early on in history, every young man had to enroll in our program for a short period of time,” said Reitz. “Everyone in this community in the early 1900’s was touched by our program. And has affected thousands of families and countless members of our community over the one-hundred years of its existence.”