North Surry High School Air Force JROTC cadets stressed their shared values with Millennium Charter Academy students during the school’s middle school student honor code signing day Monday.
“You (MCA) are known for your high academic standards and for having high standards of honor and respect. That is something we have in common,” began Cadet Jordan Krause. She reminded the students not to forget three principles: integrity before all else, service before self and excellence in all one does. Lt. Colonel John Bowes accompanied the cadets.
Cadet Alex Bowes told the students about Staff Sgt. Henry Erwin, who served on a B-29 aircraft in World War II. On a mission over Japan, Erwin had the assignment of lighting and dropping a flare that would illuminate the target for the bombing mission.
The flare lit prematurely, hitting Erwin in the face and melting off his nose. The aircraft filled with smoke and began to dive toward the ground. Erwin felt for the flare’s heat with his bare hands to locate it and made his way to the only window which was in the front of the plane.
At one point, Erwin had to crawl over bombs with the flare and had to tuck the flare under his arm so he could move a table to get to the window. The flare set Erwin’s uniform on fire, burning him severely in yet another area of his body.
“Excuse me, sir,” said Erwin as he spoke to the co-pilot, opened the window and threw out the flare, saving the entire flight crew.
Bowes said that Erwin received the Medal of Honor for his service. He said the highest honor is to give up yourself to preserve others. Bowes showed the students a film about recent veterans being congratulated by citizens. Bowes said there are the two types of honor, honors received and honors offered.
“It is just as honorable to give honor as to receive it,” Bowes told the students. “You can be honorable by recognizing the selfless acts of others.” He reminded students to honor parents, school faculty and staff, school housekeeping and school cafeteria and maintenance and school public safety officers.
He said the school’s code included the rule that they honor others with the same respect that is due themselves.
“You don’t have to pick up a burning flare. Just honor others,” added Bowes. “This code is setting the stage for something that makes us what we are. It is a way of looking at life. Glance up at the top of the document. Remember what you are signing.”
MCA Headmaster Kirby McCrary said three goals of the school for students were honor, integrity and to think well.
“We want you to be intelligent, virtuous citizens that lead in a democratic society,” said McCrary. Earlier in the ceremony, members of the student president council related various concepts in the United States Declaration of Independence to the school’s honor code.
“Honor is something found within ourselves,” said student Elizabeth Campbell. “Do you choose the higher ground? Our school is a place of trust and character.”
Student Nick Blackburn spoke of the founding fathers of the nation’s legacy.
“It is our job to continue in our own way what the founding fathers started,” said Blackburn. “We should strive to identify things that are important and set a good example for others so they can do the same,” said Blackburn.
Student Sarah Shephard emphasized the importance of working together to realize the precept of forming a more perfect union.
“Our actions reflect our path,” said Shephard. “We must think ahead to make good long-term decisions with a lasting effect. Your choices affect the world around you more than you think. Don’t risk trust to rise higher.”
Student Dalton Wagoner asked his classmates to define justice. He said that justice is really only fairness. He said that at MCA students are judges on who they are and their individual choices. He said the school has great respect of justice.
The document signed by the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students will be framed and hung in the school’s lobby with similar honor code documents.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.