Wall of Fame of ROTC in AHS hallway

Wall of Fame of ROTC in AHS hallway

Paris Thomas, Reporter

ROTC and JROTC are programs that are rich in history dating back to the 19th century, however, many students don’t know the origin and purpose of the groups.

The JROTC program at Alton High is led by Colonel Ayres. “ I think it’s (JROTC) important because it teaches these kids a lot of leadership skills,” Ayres said. “Those kinda things are pretty important and are gonna help kids in the real world.”

Ayres comes from a heavy military background. “My father was in the Air Force, my brother was in the Air Force, my wife was in the Air Force, and I had grandparents that served in both World Wars,” Ayres states. Ayres also served 20 years in the Air Force.

JROTC was established in 1916. In 1964, Congress mandated that military services must have a JROTC Program. Its goal was to encourage students that they should become better citizens and serve in the U.S whether it’s community work, volunteering, or going in the military.

All grades are eligible to join JROTC here in Alton. They learn about the different branches of the army and the U.S government to show their dedication to their roles. They also have a schedule where they do specific activities on specific days.

Every Wednesday is drill day. Thursdays are uniform days to represent the Alton High ROTC members. Every Friday is PT, which stands for Physical Training.

The first remnants of ROTC could be dated back to 1819 where the training of college students began at Norwich University in Virginia. Alden Partridge was the man behind the idea. In West Point, New York, Alden Patridge was a superintendent in US Military Academy until he formed  American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy in Norwich, Vt (Now Norwich University).

1862 was a significant year for the making of ROTC. The Land Grand Act of 1862, also known as the Morrill Act of 1862 named after Vermont Legislator James Morrill, was an act that gave each state at the time 30,000 acres of land to construct scientific learning institutions. To pay them back, however, each institution had to offer military tactics courses.

By the early 1900s, 105 colleges offered military courses all over the country. During WW1, the Plattsburg Movement started when many people believed our army was too small to be effective. Because of this reason, they began building more camps to train potential soldiers going to the war. 

The National Defense Act of 1916 officially started the ROTC program. By 1947, The ROTC Vitalization Act of 1964 made the program more connected with college and recognized ROTC as the primary source of active-duty Army officers.  In the process, qualified cadets were able to receive scholarships and monthly stipends.

As of Today, ROTC provides their members free college and guaranteed work post-college in exchange for their services in the military post-graduation. Each military branch’s take on the program is different from the other. Over 1,700 colleges and universities nationwide offer these services.

In Conclusion, JROTC/ROTC has changed the life of many across the nation. “JROTC has positively affected how I look on my life and it inspired me to be better,” JROTC member Chrisitan Villereal said. For more information about ROTC, email the guidance counselor.