I flew back to South Florida for our Second Annual Allen West Foundation High School JROTC PT Challenge on Saturday. A year ago we had just four teams participate. This year we had five different schools and 12 teams — Mariner High from Cape Coral, Plantation, South Plantation, Boca Raton, and Forest Hills – and parents who came out to cheer along their sons and daughters.
The PT Challenge consists of one minute of maximum push-ups and sit-ups, then a three-mile run. Each team is comprised of seven cadets — four male and three female, and there is only one standard. The key thing for the run is that the time for the team is when the last person of the team finishes. In other words, they start and finish as a team.
The graders for the event — for the second year — were the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) SWAT, many of whom are former military.
It was a perfect day for PT — which stands for physical training — a little windy, overcast, and in the low 70s. A cold front blew in later right as the three-mile run was being completed and added to the character of the event.
Why did the Allen West Foundation conduct such an event? Well, my military career began as a High School JROTC cadet at Henry Grady High in Atlanta Georgia, where I was the Cadet Battalion Commander. To this day I still remember my instructors — LTC Pagonis, MAJ Heredia, MSG Buchanan, and SFC McMichael — all of these men had served in combat between the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The impression they had upon me was lasting. And I believe the instructors there with the cadets at our event will have the same effect.
But what is most important about this event is to recognize the future leaders of our country — these young men and women. They don’t often get the recognition they deserve — as demonsrated by the lack of any media coverage of the event — and yes, a press release was issued.
There were nearly 100 high-schoolers out pushing themselves to the limits, all for pride in their school’s JROTC program and team. Those are the same young men and women who will one day push themselves to the limit to protect and serve this great Republic. In fact, I met one from Mariner who has already submitted his admissions packet for West Point.
And why, oh why was there not a single media outlet from South Florida in attendance?
The answer is simple — it doesn’t sell with them. Look at the response from some liberal progressives and accomplice media outlets towards the impeccable film “American Sniper.”
I can guarantee you if 100 high schoolers were out rioting or being arrested, our local South Florida media would have been right there. But why be there to tell the story of the young man from Plantation High who did 83 solid pushups in 60 seconds? Or how about the two young men who did 68 sit-ups in one minute? Or would it have been nice to interview the young female cadet from Forest Hills who even though experiencing immense physical pain, refused to quit during the three mile run — walking and running when she could? And guess what, her team did not leave her behind.
Would it have been nice for the media to be there to see local Dr. Chuck Moore, a renowned cardiologist — a retired officer who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam — in attendance to support these young men and women? The look in the eyes of the young Cadets when he was introduced at the awards presentation was, well, “priceless.”
Also in attendance to show support was U.S. Army Ranger Staff Sergeant Brian Mast — a local double leg amputee combat veteran of Afghanistan, the 1st Ranger Battalion, and the elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) where he was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Operator.
These future leaders had before them the legacy of service, sacrifice, and commitment spanning from World War II to the present conflagrations of Iraq and Afghanistan. And that story wasn’t worthy for any media outlet to capture.
Well, in the end, who cares? Those cadets captured it on their cell phone cameras but more importantly in their hearts — and that ladies and gents is how the legacy of liberty in America shall be preserved. Saturday, at John Prince Park in Palm Beach County we all participated in an event to ensure the torch will be passed.
And that’s what the Allen West Foundation is all about. God bless you all for your contributions that made the event possible — along with a $500 scholarship contribution to each of the schools who participated.