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A tradition of camouflage

A tradition of camouflage

Camouflage is supposed to hide the wearer. In the case of Cathy Harker, Lieutenant Colonel Army Reserve, camouflage did everything except help her to blend in at her child’s school. From my spot on a miniature stool at Grayson Elementary some seven-or-so years ago, I can vividly recall seeing every child’s head turn as Cathy walked into the cafeteria to have lunch with her son, Nick. She had an engaging smile as she graciously acknowledged their not-so-camouflaged curiosity. 

Beth Volpert

Fast forward to my spot in the bleachers on any given Friday night. Camouflage can be spotted throughout the crowd and on the sidelines under the Friday night lights. Those who wear the uniform are the members of Grayson’s Jr ROTC. And that little boy whose mommy garnered such attention in the lunchroom? Well, he grew up, as children do, and has begun a journey that looks a good deal like that of his mom. 
Nick Harker, a Platoon Leader, is now a sophomore at Grayson High School and a member of the Competition Raider Team. The team participates in a variety of competitions such as the highly intensive cross country rescue. The ten-person team engages in physically taxing activities that involve carrying six weighted “rucksacks” and a 100lb litter all while negotiating obstacles along the way under a time limit. The team practices on their own fields behind the stadium. 

The response by students at Grayson has been such that the program has become very popular. Students who begin as freshman have a great opportunity to move up through the ranks. Whether they choose a military school or career after high school is certainly up to them, but the opportunities for leadership development are plentiful as the group finds ways to help out throughout the school. Competitions are key to their physical training, but, according to Athletic Director, Brian DeBerry, the students are becoming a part of leadership within the school. “They bring a different element to the football games with the presentation of colors,” says DeBerry. “The Jr ROTC has engaged 150+/- kids in competition and provided an opportunity for ownership by being a part of school activities.” 

With her son’s decision to become involved in Jr ROTC, a family tradition has begun. “I am happy to share a part of my life with Nick that no one else in my family has been involved in,” says Cathy. “He definitely makes his mom proud.” The whole family is proud of both of them and has always offered their support especially when duty calls mom away. 

From the bleachers, the entire community has the opportunity to witness the difference a little camouflage can make within the crowd. The aisles are clearer, the seating areas are cleaner, lost children are returned, marching band belongings are guarded during half-time. The lists are endless as the members of the Jr ROTC find ways to serve. No longer are there a scattered few parents in uniform standing out in a crowd. Today, the crowd includes students proudly wearing the uniform while beginning their own traditions or continuing a family legacy.