If you go
• What: Marine Corp’s birthday and Veterans Day ceremony
• When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
• Where: North Forsyth High, 3635 Coal Mountain Road
The North Forsyth High School Marine Corps JROTC will commemorate the Corps’ birthday and honor Veterans Day in a ceremony tonight.
For the 14th year, the unit will hold the community event in the school’s football stadium.
Maj. Mac Kelly, senior Marine instructor, said the cadets will march on the field and talk about the values of the Corps, which celebrates its 236th birthday Thursday.
In Marine tradition, the oldest and youngest will receive the first pieces of cake.
As part of the Veterans Day portion of the ceremony, Kelly said a medley of songs from the five branches of service will be played.
“For people in the stands, when their song is played, they stand up,” he said. ”It’s interesting to watch how many Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard veterans there are.”
The hour-long ceremony is a patriotic tribute and an opportunity for young cadets to share their involvement with the community.
And the county’s only JROTC program has a reason to celebrate this year as well.
The unit won the Marine Corps Reserve Association Honor School Award for the 2010-11 school year.
“This is the highest award that a ROTC unit can get,” said Kelly, adding that it’s the first time North has received it.
The school’s program earned the most points of the 57 schools within its region, which spans the Southeast. The award will be presented Thursday by retired Marine Col. Rick Husty.
For the past six years, the local program has been named a national Naval Honor School, which is awarded to the top 20 percent of the nation’s more than 850 JROTC programs.
With 237 cadets this year, the North program is one of the largest in the Southeast.
Kelly expressed pride for the group of current students, as well as past classes.
“These kids aren’t Marines. We don’t treat them like Marines,” he said. “But we do hold them accountable to the same kind of traits and principles.”