A group of 30 Junior ROTC cadets from Gettysburg High School, along with 11 adults including two World War II veterans, will travel to Normandy, France on June 2.
“We will be marching in the 70th anniversary of D-Day,” said ROTC cadet Dakota Peterson, a senior at Gettysburg High School.
Peterson explains the Gettysburg connection.
“We are a sister city to the city of Sainte Mere Eglise. In the parade we’ll have a battalion of 30 cadets and we’ll be leading the parade as we do on Memorial Day in Gettysburg,” Peterson said.
The honor for the unit was chosen by the National D-Day Anniversary Committee. The unit is the only one to be chosen from Pennsylvania.
Cadet Bryant Claey will march in the parade as the company commander. He will also remember family members who served.
“I had two of my grandfathers fight in World War II and one of them was actually at the Battle of the Bulge, so it’s a great honor just to be memorialize him by going over to France and marching in the parade,” Claey said.
While there, another life changing event will take place: graduation.
“We are going to film our six senior cadets receiving their diplomas and the mayor of Sainte Mere Eglise will make the presentations for us and I’ll present the coin to him. The coin is significant to Gettysburg, an eagle’s left claw representing the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg, his right claw a scroll, remembering the Gettysburg Address,” said LTC Mike Wertz, Senior Army Instructor.
A coin tying two historic battlegrounds together; a symbol to never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“It’s about those who’ve fallen. I’m just there to honor them,” Peterson said.