Texas Liberal

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More Honor Roll Kids And Fewer ROTC At King Parade Would Be A Good Change

The Martin Luther King Parade in Downtown Houston would benefit from fewer ROTC units and more honor roll and debate club members. I bet the same is true at King Parades around the country.

Every year I go to the King Parade and every year I see a large number of ROTC kids marching with bayonets and rifles. Nothing could be more contrary to the message of Martin Luther King—Especially at a time when we are in an unnecessary war.

It would take just a little imagination to have honor roll students, student newspaper staffs and language club members march instead of ROTC. Such a change would better reflect the purpose of King’s work.

Of course, all this was less of a problem yesterday when so many of the parade participants failed to show up because it was cold. That’s okay–It’s not like Martin Luther King ever marched under tough circumstances.

A published report this morning said that 75% of marchers showed up yesterday for the AM Houston King Parade. Based on the King parades I’ve seen in the past, that number is simply wrong.  

January 16, 2007 - Posted by | Best Posts Jan.-June 2007, Houston, Martin & Malcolm


  1. “It would take just a little imagination to have honor roll students, student newspaper staffs and language club members march instead of ROTC. Such a change would better reflect the purpose of King’s work.”

    I agree, strongly, with your sentiments. It is so sad that an icon of peace and understanding has become militarized for the sole reason of being an icon.

    Comment by Sam | January 17, 2007

  2. I think you misconstrue ROTC like many people do.

    My son is in an Air Force ROTC and it is a wonderful experience. I have to believe that Martin Luther King would fully agree with our High School Students being involved in an organization that has such high moral values and works diligently in community service. In order to participate in a drill squad, whether it is a Color Guard, un-armed or armed drill, or Saber squad – a student CANNOT participate in a competition or drill display unless his or her grades are in high standing (i.e. honor students). Further, if a student has bad conduct, they are not allowed to compete (i.e. no pass / no play). They also have Academic and Physical Training teams that compete in tournaments…. so “armed drill” is a very small portion of what ROTC is about. Last of all – when an ROTC student wears his/her uniform and displays their rank and ribbons – these have been EARNED; Academic, Attendance, Good Conduct, Service (community service), Color Guard, etc.; all have criteria that include grades in high standing in order to qualify to WEAR the ribbon. This is grades in ALL classes, not just in ROTC.

    The next time you see an ROTC High School student, rather than simply seeing a “potential soldier” that you feel goes against King’s beliefs – instead I hope you see a young man or woman that is making good choices in High School, joining a team where they are recognized for their hard work, excellent grades, community service, good citizenship, high morals, physical fitness… all of the things that I believe Martin Luther King believed in.

    I know a lot of “honor students” with A’s that don’t stand up when the U.S. Flag goes by, or is not respectful to the teachers. There are outstanding athletes that cannot read. But if you see a ROTC cadet with a uniform full of ribbons – you better believe they are learning to be tomorrow’s leaders. Not just military leaders – because many of them will not continue a military career – but their experience in ROTC will prepare them for tomorrow.

    My son is only a freshman and has dual ribbons in Academics, Conduct, and Attendance. He has Superior Performance (10% of all cadets receive), Service Award (for outstanding community service), Color Guard, Competition, as well as a National Award “the Tuskegee Airman Award”. When he was in middle school I wouldn’t have encouraged him to join ROTC (I’m a mom – I don’t want my son to be a soldier) – but allowing him his choice has made the world of difference in his High School experience. I don’t worry about the kids he hangs around with, I know he will do his best in all of his classes, I know he will show respect at all times, I know this because he is a proud ROTC Cadet.

    Next time you see ROTC Cadets in an MLK Parade, or in any Parade… take time to meet some of them, find out what their ribbons mean, and meet so many of the “Honor Students” that wear an ROTC Uniform and carry the US flag, rather than a banner that says “we are honor roll students”. MANY of the cadets ARE honor roll students.. more importantly they are students of honor!

    Comment by sara | April 8, 2008

  3. Nice Sara! though i agree with neil that the idea that is not discussed is to manipulate these students into future military duties, they are honorable as anyone that serves our country. I dont think you need to wear an american flag to love america and i dont have a problem if you do. the fear that i have is a nationalistic trend that will lead us to think we are better than everyone else and the fact is we are all the same!

    Comment by bill brady | April 8, 2008

  4. The Student Leadership in Public Schools often comes from The ranks of JROTC and Fine Arts Programs. These programs not only builds character, but it prepares Young People for leadership in College, The Work Place, but most importantly, The Community where they live.JROTC Programs are a Bright Alternative to some gang that could easily occupy their time. Some JROTC Cadets might go on to pursue Military Careers, but The JROTC Programs are not a recruiting tool for The Military. After reading this blog earlier, we did some research both locally and nationally. We discovered that many JROTC Students are already Good Students academically. JROTC helps them in many instances develop Study Skills that enables them to achieve and excel in The Other Disciplines of Science and Mathematics. Dr.King wasn’t opposed to The U.S.Military, he was opposed to an Undeclared and Immoral War. A war that I was drafted to serve against My Personal Beliefs and Opinions. As a College Student in 1969, I was faced with The Challenge of serving My Country or serving My Personal Ideals. I chose serving My Country, I now serve my Personal Ideals of being a part of One Race and Human Rights and Dignity for all. I try to demonstrate those beliefs in The way that we observed The MLK Holiday, as we try to accomodate as many organizations and groups as time and logistics will allow. However, if there is some group that we inadvertedly omitted, please register now for The 2009 MLK Grande Parade Online @mlkgrandeparade.org. We’ll try and do better on The Weather next time.


    Comment by Charles Stamps | May 12, 2008

  5. I feel King would have opposed training kids for war and making training for war a path to college for kids who find many other paths cut off. I don’t think those kids would be marching in a more fair society.

    I’d urge the parade not to exclude any group, but to add honor roll kids and A students. Thanks for the comment.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | May 14, 2008

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