Union High School's Junior Air Force ROTC unit got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent our state Monday in the Presidential Inauguration Parade.
This isn't a new honor for Union; they were selected to march in the Inaugural Parade four years ago. But all those students have graduated, and now a new group gets to be part of this historical event.
It's an honor nearly 3,000 schools across the country applied for: the chance to march in the 57th Presidential Inauguration Parade.
Retired Lt. Col. Ron McCool is one of two commanding officers with Union's Jr. Air Force ROTC.
His unit is the only one of its kind in the nation selected to march in this parade.
"These kids are so pumped up, they realize this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, to be involved in something that's very historical," McCool said.
Since they left four days ago, the group's Facebook page has been filled with pictures, mementos of this rare honor
"This is probably the only time that they will be somewhat up and personal, if you will, with the President of the United States," McCool said.
Senior Cadet Chris Arrington said he understands the historic significance of the day. He said the chilly weather, while they marched through the streets of the capitol, would be the last thing on his mind.
"My excitement is through the roof, I think that's gonna drown out any other feelings, really, it's gonna be all excitement and adrenaline rush," Arrington said.
It's the first time some of these 80 cadets have been out of the state.
"Actually, only two of our cadets have been to Washington, DC before," Arrington said.
In between practice, they are taking advantage of this opportunity.
"We visited the Vietnam Wall, the Iwo Jima memorial," Arrington said.
And now these Union High students are a part of the nation's history.
"They understand the significance of being part of an inaugural that dates all the way back to George Washington," McCool said.
The group was given less than a month to come up with $40,000 for the trip. Thanks to a last minute anonymous donation of $8,000, they met that goal the morning they left.
The group is expected to return home Tuesday afternoon.